How James Webb Orbits "Nothing"

Published 2022-01-28
How does James Webb orbit "nothing"? Claim your SPECIAL OFFER for MagellanTV here: Start your free trial TODAY so you can watch 'Space: the New Frontier' and the rest of MagellanTV’s science collection:

The James Webb Space Telescope is now in orbit around L2! But there's nothing there, so how can it orbit when there's nothing there? We'll show how JWST maintains its orbit around the second Lagrangian Point of the Sun and Earth.

00:00 Webb Enters Orbit
02:25 Magellan TV
02:59 Lagrangian Points Explained
04:29 Station Keeping at L2
07:00 How Webb Orbits L2
10:22 Webb's Actual Orbit and Trajectory
12:13 Maintaining Webb's Orbit

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All Comments (21)
  • Daniel M
    I’m still in awe that scientists can figure out all of these computations, and get Webb to work as planned (after all of the computer simulations and rigorous testing) Seriously amazing! Thanks for the video to help explain all of this. I’ve been wondering how that L2 orbit works since seeing the animations.
  • Luke Schroeder
    A little over a hundred years ago, humanity hadn’t yet made functioning airplanes. Now we have telescopes flying through space taking visible and infrared pictures and sending them back to earth. This is absolutely amazing!
    I've seen a lot of videos explaining JWST's orbit. This one is by far the most clear and easy to understand, and with great detail as well. Thank you!
    "Until next time.. stay curious my friend."

    That line comes across so genuine each time. I'm glad I found your channel, every video is so full of detail with a clear explanation. Thank you.
  • Yuuup
    I can only imagine how excited the team was to nail the burns so efficiently, and reward themselves with an extra decade with this amazing tool. All their hard work is really going to pay off for all of us!
  • David Whitley
    You've done a fantastic job simplifying a complex topic into a digestible topic! I'm not an astrophysicist, and really appreciate the effort put into this. I've been wondering it offhand for months now.
  • Bravo-01
    Your explanations simply cannot get any better. Crystal clear and informative
  • Fishbone4u
    Thanks for making an insanely complicated subject understandable for those of us not born with Einstein brains! I now understand the physics behind this now thanks to you. You just earned a subscriber!
  • C Alexander
    This was a fantastic explanation! You do a great job of making the basic components of complicated things seem intuitive and easy to understand. I am curious though--do you have a list of links to the sources you used? I'd love to go even further down this rabbit hole :)
  • Naji Ali
    Simplest explanation for the most complex project. Thanks for the time and effort you put into this video 👍🏼💚.
  • Beaker_Guy
    I'd like to suggest a similar video (someday) explaining how missions like Lunar Prospector and LCROSS used changes in orbital velocity to measure density variations on the Moon, etc. I understand the basics of how that works, but would love to see the details explained this clearly.
    Really enjoyed seeing the force vectors analyzed! Thanks!
  • Jason Roberge
    This explanation was simply amazing. I've been looking for a video covering this for ages. Thank you so much! Any way you could do a deeper dive into just exactly how the insertion burn worked?
  • Lenny F
    Absolutely the best explanation I've heard about Webb's very complicated and complex orbit.
    Thank you!!!!!! Wondering about how this orbit works has been keeping me awake at night for the past few months. I finally understand it enough to be content. Thanks man
  • As a physics student I really enjoy these videos. They just show you how much there is to learn :)
  • nixxon 3
    Awesome explanation. This video explained so many things I was wondering about regarding this mission, including the actual orbits and the calculations that have to be made. Well done, LPA!
  • Z P
    Absolutely amazing explanation! Its so hard to explain such complex matter, but, you made it masterfully! Greeting from Brazil.
  • Stephen Bove
    Thanks for this A++ vid!! Wonderful!! As a follow on, it would be cool to see the "real world" orbital calculations with all the corrections (assuming they've ever been published by theWebb team). Also, a segment on the rocket motor used to provide the critical orbital correction burns would be super cool - that thing is so critical to the life of the mission!!
  • E. I. U.
    Since the JWST was launched, I've been reading up on lagrange points and L2 halo orbits. I struggled to understand how a halo orbits works. This video is the best video I've seen that explained the physics behind it. Thank you so so much! You have a new subscriber and I will be sure to support your patreon.