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NASA’s new space telescope is approaching its destination in solar orbit

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is designed to give you an unprecedented glimpse of the early stages of the universe, in a gravity parking space in orbit around the Sun, nearly a million miles from Earth on Monday. I’m getting closer.
With a final course correction operation by the onboard rocket thruster set at 2:00 pm EST (Greenwich Mean Time 1900), Webb aims at a stable orbital position between the Earth and the Sun known as Lagrange Point 2 (L2). It is expected to reach the ground. Arrived one month after its release.
Eric Smith, NASA’s Webb program scientist, confirmed that the thruster was launched by a mission control engineer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and the ground team used radio signals to successfully “insert” the Webb into orbit. To do.
As planets and telescopes orbit the Sun, enabling uninterrupted wireless communication, the Webb follows a special path that is always aligned with the Earth from a scenic spot in space.
By comparison, Webb’s 30-year-old predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, orbits the Earth from 547 km away, moving in and out of the shadows of the planet every 90 minutes.
Pulling the Sun and Earth together in L2 holds the telescope firmly in place, requiring very little additional rocket thrust to prevent the web from drifting.
According to Smith, the L2 position has been used by several other deep space satellites for many years, allowing it to “keep the minimum amount of fuel in orbit.”
The Operations Center has also begun fine-tuning the telescope’s primary mirror, an array of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-coated beryllium metal with a diameter of 6.5 meters, much larger than the Hubble’s primary mirror.
Its size and design operate primarily in the infrared spectrum, allowing Webb to look into clouds of gas and dust and observe objects at much greater distances than Hubble and other telescopes.
These features are expected to usher in a revolution in astronomy, providing the first view of an infant galaxy just 100 million years after the Big Bang. This is the theoretical flash point that began the known expansion of the universe estimated 13.8 billion years ago.
Webb’s equipment also looks for potentially life-sustaining atmospheric signs around a number of newly recorded extrasolar planets (celestial bodies orbiting distant stars), such as Mars and Saturn’s A Moon of Ice Titan. Ideal for observing a world far closer to home.
It will take a few more months to prepare for Webb’s astronomical debut.
The 18 segments of the primary mirror, which were folded together to fit inside the cargo compartment of a rocket carrying the telescope into space, unfolded with the rest of the structural components during the two weeks since the Web was launched in December. Was done. twenty five.
These segments have recently been removed from the fasteners that were held in place for launch, allowing them to slowly move 0.5 inches forward from their original configuration and adjust to a single, uninterrupted condensing surface. became.
Eighteen segments need to be aligned to achieve proper focus on the mirror. This process will take 3 months to complete.
As the adjustment progresses, the ground team will begin to launch the observatory’s spectrometers, cameras, and other equipment. According to Smith, this will be followed by a two-month calibration of the equipment itself.
If all goes well, Webb should be ready to start observing by early summer. The first image is used to show that the device is functioning properly.
But Smith says Webb’s most ambitious work, including plans to train mirrors on objects farthest from Earth, takes time to perform, so it’s a while before the world sees such images. He said it would take.
The telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA in collaboration with space agencies in Europe and Canada. Northrop Grumman Corp was the prime contractor.

http://www.gulf-times.com/story/708536/NASA-s-new-space-telescope-nears-destination-in-so NASA’s new space telescope is approaching its destination in solar orbit

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