Pan Past JWST at L2 Point

  • Released Friday, September 25, 2015

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the next of NASA's Great Observatories; following in the line of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma-ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. JWST combines qualities of two of its predecessors, observing in infrared light, like Spitzer, with fine resolution, like Hubble.

The telescope has a 6.5 meter mirror composed of 18 hexagonal segments in a honeycomb pattern. Protecting the sensitive research instruments is a large sunsheild about the size of a tennis court. Further protection comes from the observatory's remote location in a place called the second LaGrange point (L2). Orbiting the Sun at L2, JWST will be about a million miles from Earth (roughly four times more distant than the Moon) and will always have Earth and the Sun in the same direction.

This animation, designed as an homage to a shot from "2001: A Space Odyssey", pans past a model of JWST at L2. The opening of the sequence illustrates the L2 location, showing Earth in the mid-ground, and the Sun in the background. Later in the sequence, notice the reflection of the secondary mirror sweeping across the primary mirror.

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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA, SkyWorks Digital, Northrop Grumman, STScI

Release date

This page was originally published on Friday, September 25, 2015.
This page was last updated on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 at 12:29 AM EST.


This visualization is related to the following missions: