James Webb Space Telescope: Thanks to the launch of the picture book, fuel for more than 10 years


Four days after the perfect launch aboard an Ariane 5 rocket, the James Webb Space Telescope has not only started to deploy the sunshade. According to NASA, the data transmitted to earth also indicates that the first maneuvers required so little fuel that the instrument “took much longer” than 10 years of research that I could do.

The team adds that the estimated minimum was five years. The boss of Arianespace had already made public with pride the good start and the proximity of the values ​​achieved in relation to the calculated optimum. The fuel the telescope was able to save stays in the instrument so it can stay in position longer at its target location and conduct research.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was launched from Kourou in French Guiana on December 25, with some delay. Since then, it has made its month-long trip to the so-called Lagrange L2 point, which is four times farther from Earth than the Moon. There, the telescope is shielded from the sun, earth, and moon by the tennis court-sized visor and gazes into the depths of space into the distance. Because it is an infrared telescope, it must be used at an extremely low temperature so as not to disturb itself with its own infrared radiation. It is not until the summer of 2022 that it will have cooled to the required 40 Kelvin (minus 233 degrees Celsius) and will start working. The expectations of the instrument are gigantic.

Although the instrument is designed to complete its mission so far from Earth and then shut it down, at least refueling is not impossible, reports The Verge. Astronauts and astronauts couldn’t fly to JWST with current technology, but that could change in the foreseeable future. But people would be too hot to be near the sensitive instrument anyway. But an autonomous satellite that supplies the space telescope is possible. The connections for this are available and the corresponding markings have been added. No one at NASA is thinking about it right now, but if JWST is the hoped-for success, that should change.

But if you first want to find out what the space telescope is doing on its way to its destination, you can do that at a special furnished NASA site that is always in sight. There is also an artist’s representation of the extent to which the instrument has already been unfolded. Four days after departure, the JWST has already moved more than 550,000 kilometers from land and nearly 40% of the distance to the destination behind it. The particularly delicate deployment of the huge mirror is to begin on January 4 and last almost until the point of Lagrange L2. None of the leaders can really sleep peacefully for a while.

The monkey head nebula in Orion
(Photo: ESA / Hubble)


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