James Webb Space Telescope ‘will orbit Lagrange Point 2’: NASA explains what it means

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is designed to orbit Lagrange point 2 with respect to the Earth and Sun. But what does it really mean? Where is the Lagrange point 2 and why is it important? To explain the intricacies, the space agency recently tweeted about the orbit that the telescope will follow over the next few months. In the first tweet of a thread, NASA wrote: “So you’ve heard that the Webb telescope will be orbiting Lagrange point 2. But what is that anyway? And how do you orbit something that isn’t an object?”

The space agency clarified the Lagrange point in a tweet thread. “Lagrange points refer to locations where the gravitational forces of two massive objects — like the Sun and Earth — are in balance,” NASA said.

In simpler terms, it is the point at which the earth’s gravitational pull completely balances out Sun much stronger gravity. the James Webb Telescope will orbit the Sun-Earth Lagrange point 2 (L2) for its mission.

Researchers have plotted James Webb’s orbit to match that of the telescope sun protection can always withstand all these heat and light sources. This protects James Webb’s optics and instruments, which must remain cold to “detect faint thermal signals in the universe.”

The telescope can take a look at half the sky at any given time. According to NASA, in six months James Webb will be able to capture the entire sky.

Rather than simply sitting on L2, have James Webb circle that point. This is because the telescope always has a continuous supply of solar energy for its thermal stability and power generation in a more efficient way.

Another reason the L2 point was chosen is that it is “convenient for always staying in touch with our Mission Operations Center at the Space Telescope Science Institute via the Deep Space Network,” according to NASA. The James Webb Telescope is not alone in its mission. Other observatories orbit L2 for the same reasons.

James Webb’s rocket recently slowed during the final lap of launch. That’s because the scientists wanted the telescope to slow down and start orbiting at the desired location. Had it been given more power, “Webb would have been flying too fast when it reached L2 and we would have exceeded our desired orbit.”

The rocket engines on board James Webb give a boost every three weeks to keep it stable in its orbit.

James Webb also had to undergo some course corrections en route to find the right amount of energy to orbit around L2.


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