Today's the day: Nearly a month after launch, the James Webb Space Telescope will arrive at its deep-space celestial destination on Monday (Jan. 24).
Webb will be orbiting Earth-sun Lagrange Point 2 (L2), which is about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) away from our planet. Here, the spacecraft can use a minimum of fuel to orbit thanks to its alignment with the sun and Earth.
NASA will not be broadcasting from mission control during the burn, as the agency did for some previous key milestones. However, NASA plans to carry several follow-up events live today after executing the crucial burn at about 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT).
First the agency will host a broadcast at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) live on the NASA Science Live (opens in new tab) website, as well as YouTube (opens in new tab), Facebook (opens in new tab), and Twitter (opens in new tab), featuring scientists and engineers working on Webb.
Viewers can submit questions on social media using the hashtag #UnfoldtheUniverse or by leaving a comment on the Facebook or YouTube stream. Two representatives will answer questions: Amber Straughn, deputy project scientist for Webb communications at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, and Scarlin Hernandez, flight systems engineer, Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
Following the public livestream will be a media teleconference at 4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT) that will also be broadcast live on the agency’s website (opens in new tab). Here's who will be on the call:
- Lee Feinberg, Webb optical telescope element manager, Goddard
- Amy Lo, Webb vehicle engineering lead, Northrop Grumman
- Keith Parrish, Webb observatory commissioning manager, Goddard
- Jane Rigby, Webb operations project scientist, Goddard
Webb has an ambitious mission to better understand the early days of our universe, to peer at distant exoplanets and their atmosphere, and to answer large-scale questions such as how quickly the universe is expanding.
The $10 billion telescope launched Dec. 25 following years of developmental delays, but since launch has executed its milestones on time and with little trouble to date. The complex deployment (opens in new tab) of its main mirror, for example, concluded with only minor hitches earlier this month.