weic2202 — Organisation Release
Webb Has Arrived at L2
24 January 2022
Today, at 20:00 CET, the James Webb Space Telescope fired its onboard thrusters for nearly five minutes (297 seconds) to complete the final post launch course correction to Webb’s trajectory. This mid-course correction burn inserted Webb toward its final orbit around the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point, or L2, nearly 1.5 million kilometres away from Earth.
The final mid-course burn added only about 1.6 metres per second – a mere walking pace – to Webb’s speed, which was all that was needed to send it to its preferred “halo” orbit around the L2 point.
Webb’s orbit will allow it a wide view of the cosmos at any given moment, as well as the opportunity for its telescope optics and scientific instruments to get cold enough to function and perform optimal science. Webb has used as little propellant as possible for course corrections while it travels out to the realm of L2, to leave as much remaining propellant as possible for Webb’s ordinary operations over its lifetime: station-keeping (small adjustments to keep Webb in its desired orbit) and momentum unloading (to counteract the effects of solar radiation pressure on the huge sunshield).
Now that Webb’s primary mirror segments and secondary mirror have been deployed from their launch positions, engineers will begin the sophisticated three-month process of aligning the telescope’s optics to nearly nanometre precision.
Webb is the largest, most powerful telescope ever launched into space. As part of an international collaboration agreement, ESA has provided the telescope’s launch service using the Ariane 5 launch vehicle. Working with partners, ESA was responsible for the development and qualification of Ariane 5 adaptations for the Webb mission and for the procurement of the launch service by Arianespace. ESA has also provided the workhorse spectrograph NIRSpec and 50% of the mid-infrared instrument MIRI, in collaboration with the University of Arizona.
Webb is an international partnership between NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
Image credit: NASA/Chris Gunn
- ESA’s Webb Archive
- ESA Webb Seeing Farther Interactive Brochure
- ESA Release
- Webb’s Orbit at L2
- Webb’s Journey to L2
ESA/Hubble Chief Science Communications Officer
Email: [email protected]
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