A $10 billion gleaming space diamond fades towards the horizon.
The James Webb telescope descended from the top of its rocket to begin its mission of imaging the first stars to shine in the galaxy.
Last Saturday, the footage was broadcast in near real-time, but the feed reaching Earth was extremely glitchy and broken up.
The clip has since been cleaned up and set to music by UK musician Charlotte Hatherley for the European Space Agency (ESA).
Webb is currently en route to a nightside observing position 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. It should arrive in late January at this place.
The astronomy facility is already beyond the moon’s orbit. The launch of an Ariane rocket from French Guiana on Saturday was a beautiful and extremely precise event.
Thanks to the European booster’s perfect performance, Webb was placed at the exact height and inclination to the equator as well as at the requisite velocity.
Indeed, the flight performance was so good that mission commanders believe the telescope’s lifetime has been substantially extended because it didn’t have to expend as much of its fuel to fine-tune its path.
Webb’s onboard computers decided that all requirements for a safe deployment had been satisfied and ordered the array’s rapid release, even though the event was not expected for many minutes.
The telescope was launched in a folded shape, measuring about 10.7 metres by 4.5 metres by 4.5 metres. The delicate unfurling of a large sun shield is set to take place over the next three days, and it’s now being commanded to unfold itself.
Réaltra Space Systems Engineering, an Irish start-up, created the camera system that captured the separation footage. The Réaltra technology will be installed on Europe’s next-generation Ariane vehicle, the Ariane-6, when it enters service next year, according to Arianespace, which manages launches from French Guiana’s Kourou spaceport.
ESA has previously collaborated with Charlotte Hatherley on outreach projects. The song that accompanied the Webb video is called “Lonely Waltz,” and it can be found on her 2017 album “True Love.”