It took five long months of operation, which included calibration, alignmenta test thermal stability And many critical actions. And now, finally, the most awaited news: The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will begin its science operations!
In a statement issued this Wednesday (1), . said NASA He revealed that the first operational images captured by the next generation of the observatory will be released on July 12.
However, the identity of the first targets is kept secret by the team responsible for the telescope, which took five years to work, choosing from surveys from different space agencies, to determine what these first images will show.
“Our goals with the first images and data from Webb are to demonstrate the telescope’s powerful tools and visualize the upcoming science mission,” said astronomer Klaus Pontopedan, Webb project scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), and the Science Operations Center Hubble and James Webb at NASA. “They will certainly deliver the long-awaited ‘wow’ to astronomers and the public.”
We’ve already been able to spy on some of the images taken by JWST, but they were all part of temporary alignment tests and were taken to assess the observatory’s capabilities. The statement said that the images, which will be released starting July 12, will come after “each machine has been calibrated, tested and given the green light by the science and engineering team.”
The telescope will have a high-resolution infrared view of the universe that will be unique, in addition to operating in deep space, it has a strong advantage. Its 18-segment hexagonal mirror, capable of collecting sharp images in which the first galaxies are expected to be seen, goes back to the early history of the universe.
According to NASA, the new images will be available in full color and “will be intended to showcase Webb’s range of scientific capabilities.” This means that they will not only be simple images, but also contain spectral data to show the composition of the elements and other information that astronomers can infer from the spectrum of light.
“The first physical imaging package will highlight the scientific topics that inspired the mission and will be the focus of its work: the early universe, the evolution of galaxies through time, and the life cycle of stars and other worlds,” the statement said. space agency.
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