Deploying the telescope to the vicinity of L2 also helps keep temperatures low while providing enough sunlight for Webb’s solar panels, which generate electricity. But the telescope doesn’t land exactly at L2 – it will orbit its center every 180 days in an orbit about 500,000 miles wide to expose its solar arrays to sunlight.
Scott Willoughby, the telescope’s program manager at Northrop Grumman, the observatory’s main contractor, said: “If we were at all there, we would be intercepted by Earth, to the point where we wouldn’t be able to. receive electricity. “So we do this halo orbit.”
Placing the spacecraft at this distance from Earth would also help conserve its limited fuel supply.
“If you try to get closer, you’re going to have to expend fuel to get there,” Mr Willoughby said. But less fuel is needed to place Webb at L2, he said, “meaning the vehicle’s mission life will be the longest.” This month, a mission official suggested that the spacecraft could operate for up to 20 years.
Keith Parrish, NASA’s director of telescope operations, said at a news conference on Monday: “The last 30 days, we call it 30 days on the sidelines, and we’re very proud to have surpassed that. “But on the other hand, we’re just setting the table.”
With the telescope’s instruments deployed and its arrival at L2 complete, there are months of smaller steps ahead before those of us on Earth can begin to see a vivid view of the Earth. spaceship to space. Over the next three months, engineers will monitor algorithms that help fine-tune the position of Webb’s reflective segments, correcting any misalignment – as precise as a 10,000th of a human hair – to allow the 18 pieces to shape. the hexagon in its array acts as a single mirror.
Engineers then had to calibrate Webb’s scientific instruments, test its ability to lock onto known objects, and track moving targets before astronomers could use the telescope. for science activities starting this summer. Amber Straughn, the telescope project’s deputy scientist, said during a NASA live broadcast on Monday that the first year of observations using Webb was scheduled.
“The best is yet to come,” Mr. Parrish said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/science/james-webb-telescope-arrival.html James Webb Telescope To Destination In Space: Updates and Videos