What is happening
The James Webb Space Telescope is almost ready to begin its operational phase, with its first scientific data and images expected in a few weeks.
why is it important
JWST is the most advanced space telescope and promises to take us further back in cosmic time and at higher resolution than ever before.
A new era in astronomy begins in July.
NASA has announced that the first color images from its next-generation James Webb Space Telescope will be released on July 12, a moment that took decades.
JWST is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and was in development in some form dating back to around the time of Hubble’s launch in 1990. It was supposed to launch in 2007 but was plagued by more than a decade of delays before finally to take off. on Christmas Day 2021.
So far, the observatory has spent all of 2022 going through a planned six-month period of calibration and alignment in preparation for its core workload.
“As we approach the end of the observatory’s preparation for science, we are on the verge of an incredibly exciting time of discovery about our universe. The release of the first color images of Webb will provide a unique moment for us. all to stop and marvel at a sight that mankind has never seen before,” NASA Webb Program Scientist Eric Smith said in a statement.
Some images that JWST took during this test phase have already been released and are quite impressive.
As the JWST moves from preparation to scientific achievement, it will begin by working on a list of pre-determined targets that include a number of Jupiter-sized exoplanets as well as some super-Earths.
“Our goals for the first Webb images and data are both to showcase the telescope’s powerful instruments and to preview the science mission ahead,” said Webb Project astronomer and scientist Klaus Pontoppidan. “They are sure to deliver a long-awaited ‘wow’ for astronomers and the public alike.”
In addition to looking at distant planets, NASA says its first batch of images from Webb’s operational phase will also address the other areas JWST will study, including the history of the early universe, the evolution of galaxies, and the life cycle of stars.
In addition to what scientists plan to use JWST to study, there are also likely to be unexpected discoveries along the way. Hubble observations led to the discovery of dark energy. What we find next remains to be seen, but clues could be found in the images that will be released on July 12.