Nearly a month after launch, the James Webb Space Telescope will arrive today (24) at its deep space destination. According to NASA, the telescope’s thrusters are due to fire on Monday afternoon, when the giant is put into orbit around the Sun.
Released December 25James Webb will enter orbit at a point known as Lagrange 2 (or L2), about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. This distance is four times greater than the distance between our planet and the Moon. At this point, the gravitational forces of the Earth and the Sun cancel each other out, forcing the object to stay there effortlessly and using a minimum of fuel.
Once in his new home, millions of miles from Earth, Webb will complete instrument testing and calibration procedures before he goes to work. Work is only scheduled to begin in June 2022, a date that should also mark the delivery of the first images taken by the telescope.
NASA will not broadcast James Webb’s arrival at his new home in space. However, the agency plans several follow-up live broadcasts after completing an important part of the mission.
Starting at 5:00 pm (Brazil time), the agency will host a live broadcast with scientists and engineers working on the Webb project. The broadcast will be NASA Science Live as well as their profiles on YouTube, facebook e Twitter.
During the live broadcast, viewers will be able to ask questions using the hashtag #UnfoldtheUniverse or leave comments on facebook or on youtube.
Amber Strawn, Associate Communications Specialist for the Webb Project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and Scarlene Hernandez, Flight Systems Engineer at the Space Telescope Science Institute, will talk about the telescope’s journey and answer questions from netizens.
The live broadcast will be followed by a press conference, also broadcast on the agency’s website.
The mission of the James Webb Telescope is to better understand the early stages of the formation of our Universe, to observe and discover distant exoplanets, and to try to answer questions such as: How fast is the Universe expanding?
The telescope, with a $10 billion investment, is the successor and collaborator of the Hubble telescope launched in 1990. Both were created for observation in deep space, that is, astronomical objects that are very far from the Earth. But while Hubble is detecting ultraviolet light and the visible elements of the electromagnetic spectrum, the novice will be able to see space in the infrared spectrum – invisible to the naked eye.
James Webb will be able to take pictures beyond the nebulae — clouds of gas and dust — that are the strength of his predecessor, and he will be able to show where stars are born. Thus, it complements the existing information.
In addition, Hubble will be able to look 400 million years after the Big Bang, and James Webb will allow us to observe the first galaxies formed about 100 million years after this phenomenon. Thanks to this, scientists will be able to better understand the conditions for the origin of the universe.
The researchers also intend to use the telescope to study the supermassive black holes that appear to occupy the centers of distant galaxies.
With the arrival of James Webb at point L2, the mission comes to the last leg of the journey. During the 30 days that the telescope followed its orbital point, it completed the relevant assembly steps without much trouble.
In early January, the telescope passed the most difficult stage fully open the heat shield, a five-tier umbrella measuring 20 by 14 meters – the size of a tennis court.
This equipment is necessary for observing space and is important for protecting scientific instruments from the heat of the sun and radiation emitted by the Earth and the Moon. Shortly thereafter, Webb achieved his goal. final configuration completing the “unrolling” of their mirrors two weeks after launch.