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Sun - Earth Lagrange points
Lagrange Points of the Sun-Earth system, with Gravity Field

Diagram of the gravitational potential (white lines) associated with the Sun-Earth system. Lagrange Points, designated by L1 to L3 (dynamically unstable) and L4 and L5 (stabilize by Coriolis effect), are positions in space where the gravitational forces produce enhanced regions of attraction (red arrows) and repulsion (blue arrows). WMAP orbits around L2, which is about 1.5 million km from the Earth. The forces acting on WMAP at L2 tend to keep the spacecraft aligned on the Sun-Earth axis, but requires course correction to keep from moving toward or away from the Earth.

Note: Image is not to scale.

Credit: NASA / WMAP Science Team

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WMAP # 990529

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