NASA’s James Webb telescope ready to arrive at its final destination, L2
James Webb telescopeis set to arrive at its final destination, L2 or the second Lagrange point.
- The Webb team will fire the telescope’s thrusters to place it at the intended location.
- Here, Webb will orbit the sun while staying in line with Earth.
AdvertisementNASA’s latest space marvel, the James Webb telescope, is now ready to enter its final destination L2 or the second Lagrange point which is located 1 million miles away from Earth. The space telescope has been completing several milestones ever since its launch on December 25. The next milestone is to place the Webb at L2 so that it can orbit the sun while staying in line with Earth.
Webb will need a little push to get to L2 and this involves firing its thrusters at 2:00 pm ET which would be 12:30 am IST in India. The rocket engines aboard Webb will use thrust about every three weeks so that the telescope keeps orbiting around L2 every six months, NASA said in a tweet.
The final destination
The second Lagrange point is an ideal location for an infrared observatory like the Webb because here the sun, Earth and even the moon are always on one side of space. This way the Webb’s instruments and optics will always stay shaded. It’s important to keep the instruments cool for infrared sensitivity.
Orbiting L2 also makes it easy for Webb to easily view “any and every point” in the sky. The telescope needs to wait only a few months to travel farther around the Sun and reveal part of the sky that wasn’t visible earlier. It also keeps Webb at a good distance from the Earth’s room-temperature heat that isn’t enough to warm up the telescope. L2 is also a location of gravitational equilibrium which makes it easy for Webb to orbit there.
What next for James Webb
There’s still a lot of work remaining for the James Webb telescope to start getting into action. Once it reaches L2, the team will start working on aligning the 18 hexagonal mirror segments of the telescope’s primary mirror. This alignment is expected to take months to complete, and after which the telescope will be ready to produce the first set of images this summer.
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