Science

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Won’t Hit Santa During Christmas Launch

NASA is launching a huge observatory into space early on Christmas morning (December 25), but you don’t have to worry about it hitting Santa Claus.

As St. Nick is wrapping up its annual world tour, presumably somewhere in Alaska, Hawaii, or other Pacific islands in westernmost time zones, an Ariane 5 rocket will blast off from South America with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

Santa is not expected to cross paths with the Ariane 5 rocket, which is scheduled to lift off during a 32-minute window that opens at 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT) on Saturday. It is 9:20 am local time at the launch site: the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French Guiana.

Related: How the James Webb Space Telescope Works in Pictures
More: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Launch – Live Updates

Not only will Santa be far from French Guiana when the rocket launches, having delivered gifts there several hours earlier, but his sleigh will also fly in the opposite direction. Santa has to fly west, but the Ariane 5 will fly east, passing over Africa before heading out into space.

And the Webb telescope isn’t going to orbit Earth either, so there’s no chance it will circle the planet and crash into Santa’s sleigh after launch. Rather, it will head straight for a gravitationally stable location 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from our planet, known as Earth-Sun Lagrange Point 2 (L2).

Although Santa spends most of his journey close to Earth, he has received a special launch license from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that allows him to “take a quick trip to the International Space Station” with his “StarSleigh-1 / Rudolph Rocket”. “on Christmas Eve (December 24), the agency said in a statement on Thursday (December 23).

According to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which tracks its annual 24-hour trip around the world, Kriss Kringle typically arrives on Christmas Eve between 9 p.m. and midnight local time. Astronauts on the International Space Station live in Coordinated Universal Time, so delivery from your space station should arrive between 4:00 p.m. M. And 7:00 p.m. M. EST on December 24. Therefore, there is no risk of Santa crashing into Webb during his special orbital delivery. .

You can track Santa’s path around the world using NORAD’s Santa Tracker starting at 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT) on Friday (December 24), or watch a video from NORAD of his delivery to the space station in 2020. above.

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@ or follow her on Twitter @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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