James Webb Space Telescope team delivers best possible news

Work to align the massive mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope has gone so well that the mission team believes its optical performance will be able to “meet or exceed the scientific goals for which the observatory was built.”

This is the best possible news for the most powerful space telescope ever built as it prepares to peer into deep space in a quest to discover more about the origins of the universe while also looking for distant planets that may support life.

The James Webb Space Telescope was launched in late December 2021 in a mission expected to last at least 10 years.

This week, the Webb team reported the successful completion of a mirror alignment process known as “fine phasing,” which checks whether the telescope’s optics perform at or above expectations.

No critical issues were discovered, nor was there any measurable contamination or blockage of Webb’s optical path, the team said, adding that the tests have shown the observatory’s ability to successfully collect light from distant objects and transmit it to them. to provide its instruments.

The excellent news paves the way for the telescope’s exploration of the universe, which is expected to begin in about three months from its orbit about a million miles from Earth.

NASA posted this week’s Webb telescope selfie (below), showing all 18 segments on the 21-foot-wide mirror shining brightly as they collect light from a single star during alignment procedures.

Looking good, Webb!

A special lens in the NIRCam instrument took a"selfie" of Webb’s mirror segments, checking their alignment with NIRCam. The segments are bright because they all receive light from the same star at the same time. https://t.co/RPL4OItJNA #UnfoldTheUniverse pic.twitter.com/jSrupf7i4a

— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) March 16, 2022

“More than 20 years ago, the Webb team began building the most powerful telescope anyone has ever placed in space and came up with a bold optical design to meet demanding scientific goals,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science. Mission Directorate. “Today we can say that design will come true.”

The ambitious $10 billion project is a joint effort between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, with the new telescope set complementing the work of the wildly successful Hubble telescope that has been exploring deep space for decades and providing stunning views. images back along the way.

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