December 25, 2021 at 1:20 p.m. with only a 21-second delay Ariane 5 rocket was launched with the James Webb Space Telescope. The start has been postponed so many times that skeptics may have doubted whether it will take place this year. However, the rocket has been launched, but the powerful observation instrument has not yet reached its target orbit. Now it turns out that the launch on December 25 brought additional benefits not previously mentioned.
A successful start is just the beginning of the road she will have to travel James Webb Space Telescope. Before the instrument will become our new window to the Universe, it will have to reach the site first and be fully disassembled. The Space Alert portal informs that the rocket was launched much more precisely than it was necessary to place the telescope in L2 orbit. As a result, flight corrections required significantly less fuel consumption than expected.
First corrective maneuver it lasted only 65 minutes. It may seem like a long continuous use of propellant for more than an hour, but scientists were ready to use the propulsion for up to three hours. It also resulted in an acceleration of the instrument by 20 meters per second. The second maneuver took place on December 27 and was even shorter than the previous one. Selected flight trajectory James Webb Space Telescope it was not accidental, it required an early adjustment, which resulted in fuel savings.
Why is fuel saving so important? Well, the length of the work observation instrument it depends on it. Initially, scientists assumed that it would be able to work for just over 5 years, although they hoped that this period would be closer to 10 years. Now there are reports that thanks to the precise launch of the rocket, James Webb Space Telescope will be able to work for even longer than the next 10 years. This is great news for everyone who is looking forward to the first photos and discoveries made by the instrument. Of course, these calculations assume that the JWST will not be damaged in any other way.
Although everything went well, on the first results of the telescope’s work we will have to wait for at least a few more months. The researchers explain that the mere development of thermal shields – these have a surface the size of a tennis court – will take a week. The mirror itself will be unfolded in the next three weeks. The entire procedure will require great care, as the individual parts of the mirror must fit together with an accuracy of 10 nanometers. The first photos will hit Earth around June 2022.