NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been in use for the last 25 years, endlessly circling the Earth as it unravels the universes many secrets. However, like most pieces of technology, the telescope is due for a much needed upgrade. This is where NASA’s latest telescope, the extremely powerful James Webb Space Telescope, comes into play.
The end of October marked exactly one year to the day until NASA will officially launch the James Webb telescope into orbit. The new telescope will be 100 times more powerful than its predecessor, according to reports from Forbes, and will cost the space agency around $8.8 billion in total to construct.
The James Webb Telescope also represents NASA’s largest, most complex, and most powerful telescope ever constructed by the agency. It will be tasked with studying the inner working of the solar system, snapping images of distance planets, stars and exoplanets over the next decade. During lift off, the telescope will be folded like a piece of origami art so that it can fit into the Ariane 5 rocket that will be used to launch it into orbit.
Once in orbit, the telescope will unfold and stay in line with Earth as it rotates around the sun in an orbit known as ‘Lagrange Point’, or L2 for short. This will offer the telescope shielding from the sun. L2 also offers scientists on Earth with a direct line of sight to the telescope, meaning they can send it instructions and commands at any time. In contrast, Hubble Space Telescope is only able to observe when it’s on the night-side of the planet.
Take a look at the L2 orbit the James Webb telescope will follow below.