Connect with us

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a telescope.

The secondary mirror on the James Webb Space Telescope was successfully deployed in space today, an incredibly important milestone.

“We are 600,000 miles from Earth and we have a telescope,” said Bill Ochs, JWST program manager, speaking triumphantly to his team after the secondary mirror was deployed and then latched in place.

While much of the nail-biting focus has been on making sure the observatory’s sunshield and primary mirror deploy correctly, a less talked-about but extremely important component of making the telescope function correctly is the secondary mirror.

5890960025 e6a5a7a222 h 1024x652 2
This image shows the four different types of mirrors on the Webb telescope. From left to right are: a primary mirror segment, the secondary mirror, tertiary mirror and the fine steering mirror. The bottom right shows an artist’s conception of the Webb telescope optics with its 18 primary mirror segments. Credit: NASA/Ball Aerospace/Tinsley

“If the secondary mirror doesn’t deploy, you have no light through the telescope, and the mission is over,” said Dr. Heidi Hammel, an interdisciplinary scientist with the JWST project, in an interview with me last year, before the mission launched. Comparatively, Hammel said, if other components don’t deploy correctly, there would be potential work-arounds.

“If the sunshield doesn’t fully deploy [which it now has], it will really wreck our mid-infrared observations, but maybe we can still do near-infrared. If the mirror doesn’t fully open and you only have the center section, you lose sensitivity, but it could still function.”

However, without the secondary mirror, nothing happens.  

6802406019 c21daff7eb o
Comparison of telescope mirror sizes. Credit: NASA.

JWST’s secondary mirror is quite big. In fact, it’s just a tad smaller than the Spitzer Space Telescope’s primary mirror.  (Spitzer’s primary mirror is 0.85 meters in diameter, JWST’s secondary mirror is 0.74 meters.) However, it looks quite small compared to JWST’s 6.5 meter (21 ft.) diameter primary mirror. Like the primary mirror, the secondary mirror is also coated with gold, giving them both a wonderful reflective property.

The secondary mirror is on giant struts that stick out in front of the telescope. As with much of the telescope that needed to be folded up to fit inside the Ariane 5 rocket, the secondary mirror assembly also had to be folded and stowed. It was released today in a slow, carefully controlled procedure to position the mirror directly in front of Webb’s primary mirror. The successful deploy now allows light to be directed back down to Webb’s instruments.

We just finished deploying our sunshield today, but wait, there’s more! #NASAWebb’s secondary mirror is planned to be unfolded tomorrow, Jan. 5th, in the morning (Eastern time). Read more at the blog: https://t.co/tlNmsf2UL7 #UnfoldTheUniverse pic.twitter.com/MbO5YXNBIK

— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) January 4, 2022

JWST is currently on its way to its final destination in space, the second Lagrangian point (L2) 1.5 million km (1 million miles) away from Earth. Deploying the secondary mirror comes on the heels of yesterday’s huge milestone of successfully tensioning the tennis-court-sized sunshield into its final position.

The deploy of the struts holding the secondary mirror took approximately 15 minutes, and latching those struts into place took approximately 45 minutes. Engineers at the Mission Operations Center at the Space Telescope Science Institute were able to confirm the steps based on telemetry beamed back to Earth from the observatory.

Even with all the monumental success so far, there’s little time for the Webb team to pause and reflect. Three more major
Did you miss our previous article…
https://www.mansbrand.com/5-reasons-to-visit-st-helena/

Frontier Adventure

A Planetary Disk in the Orion Nebula is Destroying and Replenishing Oceans of Water Every Month

DyGvigfWsAIzaxj 580x580 1 jpg

Planet-forming disks are places of chaotic activity. Not only do planetesimals slam together to form larger worlds, but it now appears that the process involves the destructive recycling of water within a disk. That’s the conclusion from scientists studying JWST data from a planetary birth crèche called d203-506 in the Orion Nebula.

The data they studied suggest that an amount of water equivalent to all of Earth’s oceans is created and replenished in a relatively short period—about a month. According to study co-lead Els Peeters at Western University in Canada, it was relatively easy to discover this process in the protoplanetary disk. “This discovery was based on a tiny fraction of our spectroscopic data,” she said. “It is exciting that we have so much more data to mine and I can’t wait to see what else we can find.”

The Orion Nebula is a vast active star- and planet-forming region and the d203-506 protoplanetary disk lies within it at a distance of about 1,350 light-years away from Earth. Astronomers study the nebula to understand all aspects of star birth since there are so many newborn stars there. In addition, many are surrounded by disks of gas and dust, called protoplanetary disks (proplyds, for short). Those regions are excellent places to observe planet-formation processes, and particularly the interplay between the young stars and their disks.

The Orion Nebula, one of the most studied objects in the sky. It's likely that many of its protostars and their planetary disks contain water in some form. Image: NASA
The Orion Nebula is one of the most studied objects in the sky. Many of its protostars and their planetary disks likely contain water in some form. Image: NASA

The Water Cycle of a Proplyd

We all know that water is an important ingredient for life. It certainly played a role in creating and sustaining life on our planet. As it turns out, water is a significant fraction of the materials in a proplyd. In the infant Solar System, water existed throughout our proplyd long before any of the planets formed, largely in their icy form, either as icy bodies or locked into asteroids and planetesimals. It also exists in interstellar space.

This view of Earth’s horizon was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station, using a wide-angle lens while the Station was over the Pacific Ocean. A new study suggests that Earth's water didn't all come from comets, but likely also came from water-rich planetesimals.  Credit: NASA
This view of Earth’s horizon by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station. A new study suggests that Earth’s water didn’t all come from comets, but likely also came from water-rich planetesimals. Credit: NASA

Most of Earth’s water got delivered to the forming planet over millions of years. It melted or outgassed to form the oceans, rivers, and lakes we see today. But, some fraction of the water in our system’s birth disk probably went through a “freeze-thaw” cycle within the disk. That happened when the Solar System was still just a disk of gas and dust. The water was essentially destroyed and then re-formed at higher temperatures.

We can’t see that effect anymore in our system. But, astronomers can point telescopes at other proplyds to see if the same process happens there. That’s what Peeters and her team did. They used JWST to look at d203-506. There, bright young stars flood the nearby regions in the proplyd with intense ultraviolet radiation. The UV breaks up water molecules to form hydroxyl molecules and that process also releases infrared light. JWST can search out that light and report back on how much hydroxyl
Did you miss our previous article…
https://mansbrand.com/the-12-best-hikes-in-utahs-national-parks-2/

Continue Reading

Frontier Adventure

The 12 Best Hikes in Utah’s National Parks

Tet19 047 Me on Teton Crest Trail copy cropped 36 jpg

By Michael Lanza

From natural arches, hoodoos, and hanging gardens to balanced rocks and towering mesas, slot canyons and vast chasms, the desert Southwest holds in its dry, searing, lonely open spaces some of America’s most fascinating and inspiring geology. The writer “Cactus Ed” Abbey no doubt had this region in mind when he said there “are some places so beautiful they can make a grown man break down and weep.” Much of it sits protected within southern Utah’s five national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef.

The good news? Many of the best sights can be reached on dayhikes of anywhere from a couple hours to a full day.

A hiker below the Wall of Windows on the Peek-a-Boo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park.
” data-image-caption=”Cyndi Hayes hiking below the Wall of Windows on the Peek-a-Boo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?fit=300%2C199&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?fit=900%2C598&ssl=1″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?resize=900%2C598&ssl=1″ alt=”A hiker below the Wall of Windows on the Peek-a-Boo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park.” class=”wp-image-43917″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?resize=1024%2C680&ssl=1 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?resize=300%2C199&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?resize=768%2C510&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Bryce2-013-Wall-of-Windows-Peek-a-Boo-loop-Bryce-Canyon-UT.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />Cyndi Hayes hiking below the Wall of Windows on the Peek-a-Boo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Tet19 047 Me on Teton Crest Trail copy cropped 37 jpg
Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-books to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

The list below of the best dayhikes in southern Utah’s national parks derives from numerous trips I’ve made to each of these parks over the past three decades, including the 10 years I spent as a field editor for Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog. Use my list as your compass, and I guarantee you will knock off the best hikes in these parks.

I’d love to read your thoughts about my list—and your suggestions for dayhikes that belong on it. Please share them in the comments section at the bottom of this story. I try to respond to all comments, and as I continue to explore more trails, I will regularly update this story.

A teenage boy hiking Angels Landing, Zion National Park.
” data-image-caption=”My son, Nate, hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Zion5-015-Angels-Landing-Zion-National-Park.-copy.-copy.jpg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Zion5-015-Angels-Landing-Zion-National-Park.-copy.-copy.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Zion5-015-Angels-Landing-Zion-National-Park.-copy.-copy.jpg?resize=900%2C600&ssl=1″ alt=”A teenage boy hiking Angels Landing, Zion National Park.” class=”wp-image-35512″ srcset=”https://i0.wp
Did you miss our previous article…
https://mansbrand.com/the-view-from-mount-st-helens-one-of-americas-best-hikes/

Continue Reading

Frontier Adventure

The View From Mount St. Helens, One of America’s Best Hikes

Tet19 047 Me on Teton Crest Trail copy cropped 34 jpg

By Michael Lanza

Four decades after it last erupted, Washington’s Mount St. Helens has become one of the most sought-after summits in the country—for good reason. Hikers on the standard Monitor Ridge route, on the mountain’s south side, emerge soon from the shady, cool, temperate rainforest onto a stark, gray and black moonscape of volcanic rocks, pumice, and ash, with little vegetation and sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains, including several other snow-covered volcanoes. The views could steal the breath from God.

Tet19 047 Me on Teton Crest Trail copy cropped 35 jpg
Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-books to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

From atop crumbling cliffs at the crater rim, hikers look out over the vast hole—2,000 feet deep and nearly two miles across—created by the 1980 eruption that decapitated St. Helens. Ice-capped volcanoes dominate three horizons: Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson. Scroll down to the photo gallery below from my family’s three-generation hike up St. Helens, and you’ll see why I consider it one of “The 10 Best Family Outdoor Adventure Trips.”

A permit is required for every climber above 4,800 feet on Mount St. Helens. It costs $15/person for the permit plus $6 for every permit transaction. For the quota season of April 1 through Oct 31, there are daily limits on the total number of climbers permitted on the mountain.

For each month during the quota season, permits go on sale at recreation.gov at 7 a.m. Pacific Time on the first day of the preceding month; for example, permits for hiking the mountain in July go on sale on June 1. Permits sell out very quickly. See fs.usda.gov/detail/giffordpinchot/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=fseprd528670 for information.

Read my story “Three Generations, One Big Volcano: Pushing Limits on Mount St. Helens,” about my family’s three-generation hike of Mount St. Helens, with more photos, a video, and tips on how to pull it off yourself.

I can help you plan the best backpacking, hiking, or family adventure of your life.
Click here now to learn more.

Mount Hood from Monitor Ridge.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg?fit=300%2C165&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg?fit=640%2C351&ssl=1″ data-attachment-id=”17219″ data-permalink=”https://thebigoutside.com/hel6-008-mt-hood-from-monitor-ridge-mt-st-helens-wa-2/” data-orig-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg?fit=640%2C351&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”640,351″ data-comments-opened=”1″ data-image-meta=”{“aperture”:”5.6″,”credit”:”Michael Lanza”,”camera”:”NIKON D90″,”caption”:””,”created_timestamp”:”1374488122″,”copyright”:”\u00a9 Michael Lanza\/The Big Outside”,”focal_length”:”200″,”iso”:”200″,”shutter_speed”:”0.0005″,”title”:””,”orientation”:”0″}” data-image-title=”” data-image-description=”” data-image-caption=”Mount Hood from Monitor Ridge.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg?fit=300%2C165&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg?fit=640%2C351&ssl=1″ srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg?strip=info&w=600&ssl=1 600w,https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hel6-008-Mt.-Hood-from-Monitor-Ridge-Mt.-St.-Helens-WA.jpg
Did you miss our previous article…
https://mansbrand.com/powerful-jets-from-a-black-hole-are-spawning-star-clusters/

Continue Reading

Trending