(ORDO NEWS) — The James Webb Space Telescope has arrived at its “parking spot” in space 1.5 million miles away, bringing us closer to unraveling new mysteries of the universe, NASA said Monday.
At about 1900 GMT, the observatory fired up its thrusters for five minutes to reach the so-called Lagrange point, or L2, where the telescope would have a constant view of almost half of the sky.
This careful activation of the engines increased the speed of the space observatory by only 1.6 meters per second, but this speed was enough to enter a circular orbit around the L2 point, at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.
The science mission of the James Webb telescope, consisting of observations of the very first stars and galaxies of the universe, will begin by summer.
At L2, the observatory will be in line with the Earth as it orbits the Sun, allowing Webb’s solar shield to be used to shield sensitive equipment from heat and light.
Earlier this month, NASA completed the deployment of the Webb Space Telescope’s giant gold SLR, which will receive infrared signals from the first stars and galaxies that formed hundreds of millions of years after the universe began expanding.
The visible and ultraviolet light emitted by the very first luminous objects was stretched by the expansion of the universe and now arrives in the form of infrared radiation, which Webb is able to register with unprecedented accuracy.
The James Webb mission also includes studying distant planets known as exoplanets to determine their origins, analyze evolution and assess potential habitability.
The next stages of the mission will be the alignment of the observatory’s optics and the calibration of scientific instruments. Webb is expected to return the first images back to Earth in June or July.
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