Why there aren’t cameras to capture the unfolding of James Webb Space Telescope

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With the final deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope today, you may be disappointed to learn that no photos or videos of the telescope will be revealed.

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When the Perseverance rover landed on Mars last year, the public was treated to stunning images of the rover from its descent stage down to the planet’s surface. There was even a video of the landing, showing this remarkable event from multiple angles captured by cameras mounted on the rover’s landing system.

So how come the James Webb Space Telescope doesn’t have similar cameras to the front?


recently blog post, NASA revealed that they considered installing cameras on the telescope to cover its deployment. These cameras could also be useful for diagnosing any problems that may have occurred during the deployment or operation of the telescope. However, when the proposal was examined in depth, the team found that it was not working.

“Adding cameras to witness the unprecedentedly complex deployment of such a precious spacecraft as Webb seems like a no-brainer, but in Webb’s case, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye,” Paul Geithner, Deputy Project Manager-Technical. The Webb Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in the post. “It’s not as straightforward as connecting a doorbell cam or rocket cam.”

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There are two big challenges in installing cameras on the web. The first is that, because the telescope unfolds in an elaborate process, there will not be a single location where a camera can observe all deployment processes. There would have to be multiple cameras, and these would require stars to run across the telescope, which could potentially cause problems.

The second big issue is the light emanating from the Sun. The web is designed to reflect sunlight away from its side of the sun, so it doesn’t overheat, but this means that this side is too bright to cause constant glare for cameras. Will be made In the colder part of the telescope, there would not be enough light for the cameras to see anything, and these cameras would have to operate at very low temperatures.

In the end, engineers decided that Webb’s other sensors would be more useful than cameras for getting a picture of the telescope’s position.

“The Web’s inherent sense of ‘touch’ (for example, switches and various mechanical, electrical and temperature sensors) provides far more useful information than just surveillance cameras,” Geithner said.

“We have instrumented Webb like we do many other one-of-a-kind spacecraft, to provide all the specific information needed to inform engineers on Earth about the health and condition of the observatory during all activities.” can go.”

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