Episode 8: Stretching Webb's Wings

About this video
Duration: 3 minutes, 8 seconds

One of the dominant features of the Webb telescope is its tennis-court-sized sunshield. The sunshield protects the observatory from unwanted light, keeping it cool and allowing it to detect heat from faraway objects in the universe.

Getting such a huge sunshield into orbit, however, is a technical feat. Webb's sunshield will be folded up during launch, and then unraveled in a seven-hour deployment process as the Webb telescope reaches its destination a million miles from Earth. Two deployable towers, or Mid Boom Assemblies (MBA), serve to stretch the sunshield open. The completion of this hour-long process triggers another mechanism that separates the sunshield's five layers, readying the sunshield for work.

Webb Sunshield Like an Umbrella on the Shores of the Universe

Behind the Scenes, Webb Mission


NASA and Mary Estacion (STScI)

Publication: November 17, 2010