After the Webb telescope reached its destination, known as L2, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson released a statement thanking his team "for all of their hard work ensuring Webb's safe arrival" and expressing his eagerness to "see Webb's first new views of the universe this summer!"
According to The Washington Post, L2 refers to the second of five "Lagrange points" produced by the Earth-sun orbital relationship. At L2, located about one million miles from Earth, "the tricky overlap of gravity from the sun and Earth and centrifugal forces from its orbit will allow the telescope to maintain its position relative to the orbiting Earth almost — but not quite — effortlessly."
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The telescope — a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency — took off from French Guiana on Christmas morning.
Though only roughly the size of a tennis court, the telescope is designed to detect light that was emitted as little as 100 million years after the Big Bang. So far, the oldest galaxy astronomers have observed using the 100-times-weaker Hubble Telescope dates to around 400 million years after the Big Bang.
The Webb telescope also has the ability to look much closer to home. Scientists say they plan to use the telescope to study the atmospheres of exoplanets, which lie outside our solar system and have yet to be studied extensively.
The space agencies began work on the telescope — named for James E. Webb, the NASA administrator who oversaw the beginnings of the Apollo program — in 1996. It cost over $10 billion.
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