The James Webb space telescope is the most impressive space telescope that humanity has created so far. But, to be able to capture the telescope’s iconic first images, NASA and the ESA had to send the telescope somewhere it could look deep into the universe without running into a lot of interference. But where exactly is James Webb located in space? Here’s what you need to know.
The James Webb space telescope is currently situated at what astronomers call the second Lagrange point or L2. Webb is able to safely orbit the Sun from this location, which protects sensitive equipment. Because the telescope uses infrared light to observe the universe, it was crucial that James Webb wasn’t located too close to the Sun.
Webb must avoid bright, large objects in order to see faint signals coming from distant stars. So, putting Webb in orbit at L2 allows astronomers to operate the telescope roughly as it safely revolves around the Sun 1. 5 million kilometers from our own planet. It can stay on Earth’s level and protect it from intense heat and bright sunlight.
This intense heat is crucial to Webb’s safety, since onboard hardware needs operating temperatures at 225 below zero Celsius (minus 370 Fahrenheit). The sun shield on the space telescope helps to protect the more sensitive pieces from the heat, allowing it to operate safely from James Webb’s location along its orbiting track.
The only problem with being so far from the planet is that Webb can’t be easily maintained or repaired. The chances that the Hubble-era space telescope will last as long are slim.
Thankfully, Webb is already giving us a ton of data to work with, completely changing how we view the universe. And astronomers are learning much about the early universe thanks to its unique capabilities. Webb’s current location can be viewed live on NASA’s website ..
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