According to an update by the agency, NASA’s newest flagship space observatory must have enough fuel to more than double its minimum mission duration considering space history.
The long wait James Webb . Space Telescope, a collaboration with Canadian and European space agencies led by NASA, was launched into space Saturday (December 25) aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. Often touted as the successor to the icon agency statue Hubble Space Telescope, Webb (also known as JWST) was designed to focus on infrared light, giving astronomers a glimpse into the earliest days of The universe. Despite an ambitious science program, the mission is designed with a minimum lifetime of 5 years – but with the observatory finally in space, NASA is confident it will have enough fuel to use more than that.
“The Webb team analyzed its initial orbit and determined the observatory must have enough propellant to enable it to support scientific operations in orbit for more than 10 years of scientific activity,” NASA officials said. write in one statement Posted on Wednesday (December 29). “For comparison, the Hubble Space Telescope has been around for more than 30 years.
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“Incredible news! Congratulations team!” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s deputy administrator for science, wrote in a tweet was also posted on Wednesday. “The extra propellant is largely due to the accuracy of the @Arianespace Ariane 5 launch, which exceeds the requirements needed to get @NASAWebb on the right track, as well as the accuracy of the first mid-way correction.”
That said, the agency notes that it cannot provide a specific estimate of how long the observatory will last.
“Analysis shows that less propellant is needed to correct Webb’s trajectory to its final trajectory,” officials wrote in the statement. “Therefore, Webb will have more than a baseline estimate of propellant – although many factors can ultimately affect Webb uptime.”
Webb has complete two out of three ask to see it to its final destination; The final burn will take place almost a month after launch and will mark the final step in the observatory’s perilous deployment. The first maneuver took place the Saturday after launch, the second took place on Monday (December 27).
Webb is intended to orbit a position in space called second earth-sun Lagrange point, or L2, which is nearly 1 million miles (1.5 million km) from Earth in the opposite direction from the sun. Here, the telescope will be less susceptible to solar radiation that could interfere with its infrared observations.
Lagrange points are sometimes nicknamed “parking” points for spacecraft, because they mark the locations where the gravity of different bodies balances. However, during its stay in L2, Webb will need to conduct occasional small thruster fires to “hold station” and “manage momentum” to maintain its proper position and orientation in space. .
That’s what propellant left after the third burn will be used. And Webb will have more fuel left in the tank than NASA had dared to hope. The initial launch precisely targeted the observatory’s desired orbit, meaning the spacecraft needed less time and fuel for its first two adjustments.
https://www.space.com/james-webb-space-telescope-fuel-lifetime The James Webb Space Telescope must have fuel for more than 10 years of science