All four scientific 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 statement. a press conference on Monday (May 9).
“I am pleased to announce that the alignment of the telescope has been completed with even better performance than we had anticipated,” said Michael McElwain, James Webb . Space Telescope project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, according to CBS News. “We’ve achieved essentially perfect telescope alignment. No adjustments to the telescope’s optics will produce material improvements to their scientific performance. I.”
To illustrate the telescope’s readiness, NASA has shared a teaser image captured by Webb’s Medium Infrared Instrument, or MIRI. The new image shows a side-by-side comparison of observations of a neighboring galaxy taken by Webb, with observations of the same galaxy previously taken by NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope.
Related: In a historic launch, the Webb Telescope launched into space
While the Spitzer image shows a faint trail of seven nearby stars located in the Large Magellanic Cloud (a satellite galaxy orbiting Galaxy), Webb image of the same region capturing foreground stars with sharp detail, offset by interstellar clouds gas and hundreds of background stars and galaxies, captured in what NASA calls “unprecedented detail.”
With the instruments aligned, the Webb telescope is awaiting final instrument calibration before officially starting to study distant stars later this summer, NASA said. In July, the telescope will share its first set of scientific images, targeting galaxies and objects that “highlight all Webb science themes … from the very beginning The universeto galaxies over time, the life cycles of stars, and other worlds,” Klaus Pontoppidan, a Webb project scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, said during a press conference.
NASA launched the $10 billion Webb telescope on December 25, 2021, taking the telescope on a 930,000-mile (1.5 million km) journey to its final location in the sky. The telescope consists of 18 segments of hexagonal mirrors, assembled together into one large mirror, 21 feet (6.4 m) wide. The design allows the telescope’s mirror system to fold inside a rocket during launch – unlike Webb’s predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, which recently a main mirror about 7.8 feet (2.4 m) across, Live Science previously reported.
Scientists predict that Webb will be able to photograph objects as far away as 100 times too dim for the Hubble Space Telescope to 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 – just millions of years later Big Bang.
Originally published on Live Science.
https://www.livescience.com/james-webb-telescope-perfectly-aligned James Webb Space Telescope is ‘perfectly aligned,’ NASA says