Currently, more than 35,000 miles away, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is cruising through space on the way to its 1 million mile parking spot above the Earth. It will take the space telescope almost a month to complete orbital insertion. Here’s how you can track its way there.
James Webb is now fully deployed! (1/8)
Quoting Eric Berger on Twitter, “…only about 10 percent of the mission risk has now been retired.” Now that JWST is safely off the Earth, the telescope will begin a busy 30 days of maneuvering, orienting, and deploying hundreds of mechanical parts, including a tennis court-sized heat shield. Needless to say, there’s still a lot of work to do before we’re officially in the clear.
NASA has a detailed plan to deploy the entire telescope in roughly two weeks and orbit within a month. However, the process involves hundreds of individual deployments that are human-controlled rather than automatic. This means engineers on the ground will remotely orchestrate a complex sequence of deployments and can alter the order, location, timing, and duration if needed. As of this moment, the order and approximate timing are as follows:
|Time after launch||Event|
Aft sunshield pallet deployment
Webb is fully deployed
|29 days||Midcourse correction burn (MCC2)/L2 insertion burn|
|29.5 days||Orbit insertion complete. Webb is now orbiting L2. Telescope deployment is complete. Ongoing cooldown|
How can I track James Webb’s live progress?
In typical NASA fashion, the space agency has put together a detailed data-driven page called Where is Webb?, which shows the status of Webb on its journey to L2 orbit. Here you can find things like distance from Earth, distance to parking orbit, progress percentage, current speed, temperature, and more.
Featured image credit: Adriana Manrique Gutierrez, NASA Animator
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