James Webb Telescope: NASA Is All Set To Reveal Deepest Image Ever Taken Of Universe


Six months have passed since a European rocket took the James Webb Space Telescope into orbit. 

Since then, the ultra-complex telescope has successfully deployed its vast sunshield, activated its scientific equipment, and reached a viewing location more than one million kilometers away from Earth.

After over two decades of designing, constructing, and testing the telescope on Earth ahead of its launch on Christmas Day, 2021, this tense time in space ensued. Now, however, all of that work is in the rearview mirror, and Webb's giant, the 6.5-meter-diameter mirror is gathering scientific data and photos by looking outward. It is the biggest and most powerful telescope ever sent into space by humanity, and it is already providing new information about our universe.

"The images are being taken right now," said Thomas Zurbuchen, who leads NASA's scientific programmes, during a news conference on Wednesday. "There is already some amazing science in the can, and some others are yet to be taken as we go forward. We are in the middle of getting the history-making data down."

NASA expects to broadcast numerous photographs of Webb's "first light" observations on July 12 starting at 10:30 a.m. ET (14:30 UTC). Officials from the space agency said on Wednesday that the photos and other data will include the deepest-field image of the universe ever captured—looking deeper into the cosmos than humans have ever done before—as well as the spectrum of an exoplanet's atmosphere. By observing in the infrared, Webb will be able to recognize the fingerprints of tiny chemicals, like as carbon dioxide and ozone, which will provide significant insights into the habitability of planets orbiting other stars.

Pam Melroy, the deputy administrator of NASA, was blown away by the photographs Webb has provided so far. "What I have seen moved me, as a scientist, as an engineer, and as a human being," she said.

The telescope is in good shape. A perfect launch by the European Space Agency's Ariane 5 rocket should provide Webb with 20 years' worth of maneuvering fuel. And despite the fact that there have already been five micrometeoroid strikes, the telescope was constructed with a large margin of safety.

Recalling his initial experience with Webb data, Zurbuchen said that he, too, was awestruck by the capabilities of the telescope. He said he almost cried when looking at the first photos taken by the new instrument.

"It's really hard to not look at the universe in a new light and not just have a moment that is deeply personal," he said. "It's an emotional moment when you see nature suddenly releasing some of its secrets. and I would like you to imagine and look forward to that."

What a tease!

Unfortunately, we must wait almost two weeks to get the complete results of Webb's first findings. NASA said that it would not release any photographs early, even under embargo. However, we have waited twenty years for Webb to become operational and provide a fitting replacement to the Hubble Space Telescope. I think that we can wait a little longer.

Reference(s): Space.com


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