The world’s largest, most powerful, and most complex space science telescope ever- James Webb Space Telescope- has reached the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point or L2. The Webb safely arrived at L2 on January 24, 2022, at 2 p.m. EST.
L2 is almost 1 million miles away from the Earth. It is an ideal location for an infrared observatory. At Sun-Earth L2, the Sun and Earth (and Moon, too) are always on one side of space. This will allow Webb to keep its telescope optics and instruments perpetually shaded.
And because L2 is a location of gravitational equilibrium, it is easy for Webb to maintain an orbit there.
NASA stated in the blog, “The final mid-course burn added only about 3.6 miles per hour (1.6 meters per second) – a mere walking pace – to Webb’s speed, which was all that was needed to send it to its preferred “halo” orbit around the L2 point.”
Webb’s orbit will allow it a wide view of the cosmos at any given moment, as well as the opportunity for its telescope optics and scientific instruments to get cold enough to function and perform optimal science.
Bill Ochs, Webb project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said, “During the past month, JWST has achieved amazing success and is a tribute to all the folks who spent many years and even decades to ensure mission success. We are now on the verge of aligning the mirrors, instrument activation and commissioning, and the start of wondrous and astonishing discoveries.”