How the James-Webb Space Telescope gained five years of lifespan


NASA says it: the successful launch of the telescope on December 25 from the Kourou base in Guyana allows us to hope 

for a longer than expected life for this little gem of technology, scrutinized by astronomers around the world. whole.

10 years of scientific life

"The observatory should have sufficient propellant (fuel) to allow the support of scientific operations in orbit for a scientific lifespan of more than 10 years"

indicates Nasa which recalls that "the minimum reference base for the mission is five years ”. How? 'Or' What ?

Two explanations

The Space Agency puts forward two explanations: "the precision of the launch of Arianespace Ariane 5, which exceeded the requirements necessary 

to put Webb on the right track" and "the precision of the first corrective maneuver at mid-point". Maneuver that added to the speed of the observatory. 

"A second corrective maneuver took place on December 27," adding speed.

Solar panel deployment

And NASA added that "the precision of the launch path had another result: the timing of the deployment of the solar panel" which is to power the telescope. 

The statement said that "the solar panel was able to deploy about a minute and a half after separation, about 29 minutes after launch".

There are still several stages of deployment. NASA offers to follow the calendar thanks to an animated frieze.

What will James-Webb be used for?

James Webb has two major science missions accounting for over 50% of the observation time. First, explore 

the early ages of the Universe, going back only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

 Scientists want to observe the first galaxies and the first stars ...

Its second major mission will be to study exoplanets, that is to say planets around stars other than our Sun, in search of habitable environments, in particular by studying their atmosphere.

The big news for James Webb is that he will only operate in the near and mid infrared. He will be able to see through clouds of dust impenetrable for Hubble.

which has a small infrared capacity but operates mainly in visible light and ultraviolet. Also planned are closer observations, in our solar system, of Mars or Europe, a moon of Jupiter.

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