Home LATEST NEWS The James Webb Telescope reaches its final destination

The James Webb Telescope reaches its final destination


It activated its thrusters at around 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to reach Lagrange Point 2, ideal for observing the cosmos. Welcome home, Webb!, exclaimed the boss of the American space agency, Bill Nelson, in a press release.

This was the third time the telescope had operated its thrusters in this way since its launch.

The telescope took off on December 25 on an Ariane 5 rocket from the European spaceport of Kourou, in French Guiana.

At Lagrange point 2, the Earth, the Sun and the Moon are on the other side of its visor, which will ensure that it operates in the dark and in very cold weather, conditions essential for study of the first cosmic rays using its infrared sensors.

Several delicate steps have passed successfully during the telescope’s 29-day journey to its vantage point, including the deployment of its primary mirror and the five layers of its solar shield.

With its safe arrival, its temperature will continue to decrease. Two months after launch, it will be low enough to allow its infrared photodetectors to work.

Around the fifth month in orbit, the telescope will be stable and ready for its mission.

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This is when we will practice all the modes of the four instruments. It’s an intensive period of about a month to check that everything is working as expected., says René Doyon, who leads the Canadian scientific team.

At the end of the break-in period, around the sixth month in space, the very first images and spectra of the instruments will reach us, it is hoped, around mid-June 2022. »

A quote from René Doyon, Principal Investigator of the Canadian FGS/NIRISS modules of the James Webb Telescope

James Webb’s scientific mission can then begin. It should last between 5 and 10 years, but could also extend a little.

Canadian contribution

Canada provides two instruments for the telescope. The first is the Precision Guidance Sensor (FGS), intended to keep the telescope on target, and the second is the Near Infrared Slitless Imager and Spectrograph (NIRISS).

the precision guide detector will ensure, according to Professor Doyon, that the telescope is always well pointed when looking at a star or a galaxy. Big as a dishwasher, according to René Doyon, this instrument will ensure that images [du télescope] are always very fine, [ce qui] is absolutely crucial.

This Canadian detection system is able to perceivekilometer”,”text”:”an angular movement of the telescope equivalent to that of a human hair as seen at one kilometer”}}’>an angular movement of the telescope equivalent to that of a human hair as seen from a kilometer away.

The second instrument, the near infrared slitless imager and spectrograph, will make it possible to study the atmosphere of exoplanets. We know where to point the telescope, but we don’t know if [les exoplanètes] have an atmosphere, and if so, is there water […] for there to be life?, mentions Mr. Doyon.

Scientifically, Canadian researchers want to study the very first galaxies that formed at the start of the big bang, says Mr. Doyon. The four main instruments of the James Webb Space Telescope allow this, but the near infrared slitless imager and spectrograph Canadian has a special ability.

Thanks to near infrared slitless imager and spectrograph, continues Mr. Doyon, it will be possible to target clusters of galaxies that have dark matter to amplify small galaxies that are very far behind, in the background.

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