All four scientific instruments on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have reached “perfect tuning” before the telescope officially debuts this summer. Project officials announced this at a press teleconference.
“I’m pleased to report that the telescope’s alignment was completed with performance even better than we expected,” said Michael McElwain, a James Webb Space Telescope Project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, according to CBS News. – Basically, we’ve reached a perfect telescope setup. Nothing will significantly improve our scientific results anymore.”
To illustrate the telescope’s readiness, NASA shared a teaser image from the Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument, or MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument). The new image shows a side-by-side comparison of observations of the Milky Way’s neighboring galaxy. One half is a photo taken by the Webb telescope, while the other half shows the same galaxy taken by the now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope.
Image provided by: NASA/JPL-Caltech (left), NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI (right)
While the Spitzer image shows seven blurry nearby stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, Webb showed not only the same stars in clear detail, but also thin clouds of interstellar gas, as well as hundreds of background stars and galaxies.
With its instruments tuned up, NASA says the Webb Telescope is waiting for final instrument calibration before it officially begins studying distant stars this summer. The telescope will share its first set of science images in July.
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