Friday, 18 March 2022

howdy neighbour

Albeit from a distance of a million kilometres and assuming quite different orbital paths, the team of astronomers directing the Gaia stellar charting mission (see previously) to map the galaxy by plotting the paths of a billion stars was able to greet a fellow spacecraft, the James Webb Space Telescope once it arrived at the second Lagrangian Point, where Gaia has been stationed since 2014. The yellow curves representing Gaia’s periodic path through space is called a Lissajous figure, describing a rather complex, three-dimensional harmonic knot—the kind of shape found on an oscilloscope, whereas the JWST takes a halo orbit.