The mission for the James Webb Space Telescope just got much longer

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will likely continue science operations for well over ten years, thanks to fuel savings.

Published Fri, Dec 31 2021 12:45 AM CST   |   Updated Sat, Jan 22 2022 3:30 AM CST

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is expected to operate for a lot longer than the mission engineers most hopeful estimate before launch.

The mission for the James Webb Space Telescope just got much longer 01 |

The JWST was designed with a mission length of at least five years, with those working on the project hoping for closer to ten. NASA now expects that the JWST should have enough propellant to support continued science operations for "significantly more" than ten years.

This revelation comes after analysis of the JWST's current progress toward the second Lagrange point, L2, and the two mid-course corrections undertaken so far to keep it on track. The rocket propellant onboard the JWST not only has to carry it toward this point but will contribute to keeping it in orbit around it throughout its mission, firing its thrusters in what is known as "station keeping" maneuvers.

The precise launch of Arianespace's Ariane 5 aboard which the JWST was launched contributed significantly to the propellant savings for the JWST. The two mid-course corrections have also been highly efficient, allowing the JWST to gain an extra 45 miles per hour (20 meters per second) of speed from the first and 6.3 miles per hour (2.8 meters per second) from the second.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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