GADGETS

The Webb Space Telescope has had a lucky boost since its launch this Christmas


A rocket carrying the Webb Space Telescope explodes in the sky over French Guiana.

The Webb Space Telescope was launched from French Guiana on December 25.
Photo: Bill Ingalls/NASA (Getty Images)

when Web Space Telescope Successfully launched from Earth on Saturday, most everyone was just relieved that it didn’t explode in the process. But now there’s better news: TThe launch was accurate enough that the spacecraft might be enough motiveo Continue its scientific operations for longer than planned.

web He will take pictures of Some of the oldest light in the universe, as well as nearby objects such as exoplanets. take off telescope From European Void Agency Launch pad in French Guiana on December 25 and he currently Over 360,000 miles from Earth, traveling away from us at half a mile per second. web ipicture now About 40% of the way to its final destination, a place called Lagrange Point 2. L2 is point in Space that naturally allows a spacecraft to use small amounts of fuel to remain stable Position relative to the Earth and the Sun.

According to the new European Space Agency Release, the Webb w . launchBecause it is so precisely oriented to L2 that less fuel is needed than expected to correct the telescope’s trajectory the rest of the way. Webb has so far used rocket fuel to correct its course twice It will burn more to reach orbit at L2.

Once the spacecraft is in position, it will sometimes use fuel to maintain its position and orientation in space, as well as To turn into a peer in specific areas of space. Webb’s minimum mission baseline was five years, but recent analysis of the launch indicated that Webb may be able to run operations at L2 for more than a decade.

Parallels can be drawn with the Hubble Space Telescope, which lifted off from Earth in 1990 and gave humanity 30 years of remarkable observations. Although the telescope faltered, Especially recentlyIt’s a testament to the ergonomics of the spacecraft As long as it continues. Hopefully here we can say the same about Webb.

More: Here’s what’s next for the Webb Space Telescope as it heads into deep space



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