DR. SKY BLOG

NASA sends James Webb Telescope into deep space

Dec 29, 2021, 2:00 PM
This photo provided by NASA, the James Webb Space Telescope is separated in space on Saturday, Dec....

This photo provided by NASA, the James Webb Space Telescope is separated in space on Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope soared from French Guiana on South America's northeastern coast, riding a European Ariane rocket into the Christmas morning sky. The $10 billion infrared observatory is intended as the successor to the aging Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA via AP)

(NASA via AP)

The long-awaited launch of the James Webb Telescope became a reality on Christmas Day!

The $10 billion telescope spacecraft lifted off the launch pad in a near-perfect ascent to space on its million-mile journey.

The telescope will need to travel to a special location known as the L2 point in space. This is known as a Lagrange Point. In celestial mechanics, the Lagrange points are points of equilibrium for small-mass objects under the influence of two massive orbiting bodies.

In simpler terms, this is a point where the Webb telescope can keep the sun, earth and moon behind the spacecraft for solar power and with the special shielding on the telescope, provide a clear view of deep space for this spacecraft.

With that being said, the telescope will be placed nearly 1 million miles from Earth.

There is lots to do on this mission and many things must go right, as there are over 300 unfolding steps to get the telescope into a proper useful platform.

Here are some amazing details about this special purpose spacecraft.

Where is the telescope right now? Here is where you can find out.

Actually, the spacecraft never really arrives at L2, but enters that location for a time and then begins an orbit.

It will then begin an orbit around the sun and stay in line with Earth and the moon, blocking out the rays of the sun.

The spacecraft needs to still be protected by the sunshield to filter out any stray light, so imaging of deep space objects can begin.

Here is a great video to help explain the orbit of the telescope as it arrives at the L2 point in space.

Additional details on this amazing spacecraft and the long path to it becoming a reality.

The telescope was named after Webb, the second administrator of NASA and he has a very interesting bio.

Finally, this is one of the most interesting spacecraft in recent history and one which will provide us with an amazing look back to the early formation of the universe from the Big Bang evolution 13.6 billion years ago.

Remember, the Big Bang was not an explosion which occurred around the Earth; but rather an expansion, which has been ongoing since the beginning of time.

There are so many things that we will be able to learn from the technology contained in the Webb telescope. The next few months will be most interesting, indeed.

Clear skies and Happy New Year!

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To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

Podcasts are available here.

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NASA sends James Webb Telescope into deep space