All four science instruments on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have achieved “perfect alignment” ahead of the telescope’s official launch this summer, project officials said in a news teleconference Monday (May 9).
According to CBS News, James Webb Space Telescope project scientist Michael McElwain at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland said, “I am pleased to report that the telescope alignment has been completed with an even better performance than we anticipated.” “
“We have basically reached a perfect telescope alignment. There are no adjustments to telescope optics that would materially improve our science performance.”
To illustrate the telescope’s readiness, NASA shared a teaser image taken by Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument, or MIRI. The new image shows a side-by-side comparison of observations of a nearby galaxy taken by Webb, versus observations of the same galaxy previously taken by NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope.
Above: The Large Magellanic Cloud, as seen by Spitzer, left, and JWST, right.
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While the Spitzer image shows a blur of seven or so nearby stars located in the Large Magellanic Cloud (a satellite galaxy orbiting the Milky Way), the Webb image of the same region captures foreground stars in sharp detail, offset by wispy clouds of interstellar gas and hundreds of background stars and galaxies, which NASA calls “unprecedented details.”
With its instruments aligned, the Webb telescope awaits a final instrument calibration before it officially begins studying distant stars later this summer, NASA said.
In July, the telescope will share its first suite of science images, targeting galaxies and objects that “highlight all Webb science topics … from the early universe, to galaxies over time, to the life cycles of stars, and others.” in the world,” Webb project scientist Klaus Pontopidan of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore said at the news briefing.
NASA launched the US$10 billion Webb Telescope on 25 December 2021, sending the telescope to its final position in the sky on a journey of 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometres). The telescope is composed of 18 hexagonal mirror segments, which are fitted together in a large, 21-foot-wide (6.4 m) mirror.
The design allowed the telescope’s mirror system to be folded inside the rocket at launch – unlike Webb’s predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, which has just one primary mirror, which is about 7.8 feet (2.4 m) across, as reported by Live Science. had told earlier.
Scientists estimate that Webb will be able to image objects up to 100 times farther away than the Hubble Space Telescope can see.
The telescope was designed to observe the dim light of the earliest stars in the universe, dating back to about 13.8 billion years ago—millions of years after the Big Bang.
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This article was originally published by Live Science. Read the original article here.