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Grand Opening

GOLDEN EYE This illustration shows the Webb telescope and mirror sitting atop a sunshield. MICHAEL MCCLARE—NORTHROP GRUMMAN/NASA

On January 7 and 8, NASA’s new space telescope unfolded its flower-shaped mirror. The James Webb Space Telescope will do its work 1 million miles from Earth. Its mission: to find evidence of how galaxies formed billions of years ago.

Thomas Zurbuchen works on NASA’s science missions. “How does it feel to make history?” he said to his team, in Maryland.

Webb is the most powerful telescope ever launched. It took off from South America on December 25. The entire thing was folded to fit into a rocket.

Webb’s mirror gathers light. This allows the telescope to pick up faraway galaxies. The mirror is 21 feet across. It is made up of 18 segments. NASA adjusts them to bring the telescope into focus.

“This is the moment we have been waiting for,” Antonella Nota says. She’s a director at the European Space Agency. It worked with NASA on the telescope. Nota says NASA made Webb’s unfolding in space look “so amazingly easy.”

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