NASA's Webb Telescope Successfully Reaches Final Orbiting Spot
The James Webb Space Telescope has successfully reached its final orbiting spot amongst the cosmos. Monday, scientists at NASA successfully piloted the telescope to the second Lagrange point (L2), around one million miles away from Earth. In line with Earth, the Webb Telescope will "live" at the L2 point for the duration of its life as it captures data from the earliest points of the universe.
The final burn took place at 2 p.m. Eastern on Monday as Webb fired its thrusters from around five minutes, completing its final course correction. The thrusters propelled the telescope forward just 3.6 miles per hour—roughly the same speed at which humans walk—but it got in the exact spot it needed to be.
🏠 Home, home on Lagrange! We successfully completed our burn to start #NASAWebb on its orbit of the 2nd Lagrange point (L2), about a million miles (1.5 million km) from Earth. It will orbit the Sun, in line with Earth, as it orbits L2. https://t.co/bsIU3vccAj #UnfoldTheUniverse pic.twitter.com/WDhuANEP5h— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) January 24, 2022
"Webb, welcome home!" NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a blog post on the NASA website. "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!"
"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," added 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."
Researchers are eager to start using the telescope, which they suggest will return images of the furthest reaches of space. So far away, they'll be able to see galaxies created at the beginning of time. Others think the new technology could be paramount in the search for extraterrestrial life.
"What really surprised me about the results is that we may realistically find signs of life on other planets in the next 5 to 10 years," researcher Caprice Phillips told APS Physics last year.
"Humankind has contemplated the questions, 'Are we alone? What is life? Is life elsewhere similar to us?'" she added. "My research suggests that for the first time, we have the scientific knowledge and technological capabilities to realistically begin to find the answers to these questions."