James Webb Space Telescope Reaches Final Orbit

Webb conducted its final course correction burn Monday afternoon.

The long-awaited James Webb Space Telescope has reached its final destination after a month-long journey, 1 million miles away from Earth, to peer into the moments shortly after the Big Bang.

Monday afternoon, Webb fired its onboard thrusters for nearly five minutes to perform its final course correction to its orbit around the second sun-Earth Lagrange point, known as L2.

The mid-course burn added 3.6 mph to the telescope’s speed, which was just enough to push Webb into its “halo” orbit around L2.

Webb has reached its orbit around the second sun-Earth Lagrange point, known as L2. [Credit: NASA]

“Webb, welcome home,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Congratulations to the team for all of their hard work ensuring Webb’s safe arrival at L2 today. We’re one step closer to uncovering the mysteries of the universe. And I can’t wait to see Webb’s first new views of the universe this summer!”

Read More: What You Need to Know About the James Webb Telescope

Webb’s placement at L2 will allow the massive mirrors to operate without interference from the sun, Earth, and moon, thanks to its tennis court-sized sunshield. Even though Webb has reached its final destination, it won’t begin taking photos of the universe until its onboard instruments reach a chilling temperature of around negative 380 degrees Fahrenheit.

“During the past month, JWST has achieved amazing success and is a tribute to all the folks who spent many years and even decades to ensure mission success,” said Bill Ochs, Webb project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “We are now on the verge of aligning the mirrors, instrument activation and commissioning, and the start of wondrous and astonishing discoveries.”

Now, Webb’s primary and secondary mirrors will begin a three-month aligning process to a nearly nanometer precision. The iconic primary mirrors were deployed as one of the telescope’s final milestones to full deployment. 
To see exactly where Webb is in space, NASA’s “Where is Webb?” tracker offers live updates of the telescope’s location at L2.


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