James Webb Space Telescope Completes Alignment

The world’s most powerful telescope is just months away from full operability.

NASA says its newest space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope, has completed its alignment and is ready to begin its final stages of commissioning.

According to NASA, Webb is a mere two months away from beginning scientific operations.

“These remarkable test images from a successfully aligned telescope demonstrate what people across countries and continents can achieve when there is a bold scientific vision to explore the universe,” said Lee Feinberg, Webb optical telescope element manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Alongside the announcement, NASA released new images from Webb, featuring multiple test photos of the stars from each instrument.

[Courtesy: NASA]

“With the completion of telescope alignment and half a lifetime’s worth of effort, my role on the James Webb Space Telescope mission has come to an end,” said Scott Acton, Webb wavefront sensing and controls scientist, Ball Aerospace. “These images have profoundly changed the way I see the universe. We are surrounded by a symphony of creation; there are galaxies everywhere! It is my hope that everyone in the world can see them.”

On April 13, NASA confirmed the successful cooldown of Webb’s instruments, freezing the instruments at negative 447 degrees Fahrenheit. Remaining tasks for the telescope include the commissioning of the following highly advanced instruments:

  • Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam)
  • Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec)
  • Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI)
  • Fine Guidance Sensor/Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS)

For now, maintenance observations are being held every two days to monitor mirror alignment, where adjustments are made as needed for testing. According to NASA, the first full-resolution images from Webb should arrive this summer.


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