James Webb successfully copes with critical communication tests

James Webb successfully copes with critical communication tests

When the space telescope, James Webb starts work in 2021, he will be able to open a new page in space history. This main observatory will take up the search for the first stars and galaxies, the study of distant planets around other stars and the solution of the mysteries of the solar system. Control will be conducted from the Mission Control Center (MCC) at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD.

James Webb successfully copes with critical communication tests

The mission control center of the James Webb Space Telescope is located at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD. In preparation for the launch, scientists conducted two critical and successful communication tests

To prepare for launch, the summer operations team recently conducted two successful communications tests. The first one imitated complex communications between numerous objects during a critical launch period after the first 6 hours of flight. The second showed that the MCC is able to exchange information with a telescope.

Difficult dance

Since the launch and after the first 6 hours of flight, five different providers of communication services around the world will alternately transmit command and telemetry data to the MCC. The first test demonstrated a complex exchange between objects. These points of contact are a necessary necessity because of the terrestrial geometry with respect to the orbit and height of the telescope. Most low-orbit satellites use TDRSS, but James Webb is too far away.

6 hours after launch, the telescope will be halfway to the Moon and 6 times higher than the height of the geosynchronous orbit of the Earth, where TDRSS and other communication satellites reside. At the final point, the telescope is 45 times larger than the geosynchronous orbit location. This test was an important step in demonstrating the capabilities and processes of the flight to support communication at launch. After the first day, the team will connect with only three departments of the Deep Space Network worldwide.

Talk to telescope

The mission would not have been possible without communication with the telescope. The flight team in Baltimore recently tested this for the first time by talking to the actual James Webb telescope on Earth while he was going through integration and tests at Northrop Grumman (Los Angeles, California). In this process, everyone pretended that the device was distant by millions of miles, and special radio communication devices were used to simulate space. During the control, the controllers executed non-working commands and initiated the recorder playback. This important test demonstrated the ability to control a telescope. For most of the commissioning, the MCC will maintain constant communication with Webb. 180 days after launch, the team plans to contact the device 8 hours a day.

Not all yet

In the future, even more tests are expected, but these are the first to confirm the successful communication of the MCC with the telescope and the work of telemetry. The exercises performed flawlessly, which underlines the hard and hard work of the summer operations team and researchers throughout the country. James Webb will become the world's space science observatory, which will provide many breakthrough data about the universe.

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