The $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope was launched on December 25, 2021, to replace the Hubble Space Telescope. Nearly seven months after its launch, it has finally produced images that, according to NASA, depict the deepest field views of the universe ever captured!
The images, expected to be released publicly on July 12, 2022, are stunning, and presumably beautiful enough to bring astrophysicist Thomas Zurbuchen to tears. The hard work has paid off, as JWST is about to show us a whole new perspective on space, and a comprehensive look at the universe like we’ve never seen it before.
With the coolest array of cameras in the solar system, we all had a sneak peak in the first images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. (Opens in a new tab) Back in April, in the form of test images, they were compared in quality to the now retired Spitzer Space Telescope first launched in 2003.
Technology has made great leaps since then, and improved detail and sharpness for these engineering test images (Opens in a new tab) Thanks to JWST’s large (7 times larger than Spitzer) honeycomb segmented mirrors, which have a total length of 21.5 feet.
However, these last projected images (about 10-20 expected) are said to be so beautiful that NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen almost cried when he first saw them, as reported in a recent press conference.
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The telescope’s first full-color images are said to provide a “new world view” of the universe, according to Zurbuchen. “It’s really hard not to look at the universe in a new light and not just for a very personal moment.” He shares, “It’s an emotional moment when you see nature suddenly release some of its secrets, and I would like you to imagine that and look forward to it.”
JWST is the most powerful space telescope and observatory ever launched into space, designed primarily to conduct infrared astronomy and capture the faintest light in the universe, from the first generation of stars and galaxies, which first formed over 13.8 billion years ago. At the time of the Big Bang.
Since its launch in December, JWST has been able to reveal itself in origami style and reach where it will remain during its mission, until 2028, and has also successfully aligned all segmented mirrors in place, 18 in total.
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By observing the past and looking far beyond the light radiation that has yet to reach us, the images produced from JWST likely surpass the Hubble Space Telescope’s previous Ultra-Deep Field Survey image of nearly ten thousand galaxies, with the oldest visible galaxies visible. Its history goes way back. to about 800 million years after the Big Bang. With a much larger primary mirror, the JWST is capable of much greater detection of invisible light penetrating infrared waves.
Scientists plan to use JWST to delve into the atmospheres of other worlds, searching for signs of possible life or habitability in the form of traces of ammonia, water and methane, and other biosignature discoveries. Soon to be a golden age in our understanding of the wider universe, this may just be the tip of the iceberg about what NASA has under its sleeve, with talk of extrasolar spectrum studies.
NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Milroy stated, “What I saw moved me as a scientist, as an engineer, and as a human being.” If this image from NASA next week lives up to the current hype, we’ll be very excited.
Join the astronomers, scientists, engineers, astrophotographers, and much the world at large who are interested in the possibilities of what this new golden age of space imagery means to advance understanding of the universe, and be sure to set your calendars for Wednesday, July 12, 2022.
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Check out the JWST photo countdown (Opens in a new tab) Landing page in anticipation of the first light image release, and get live updates by visiting our official YouTube channel, NASA TV (Opens in a new tab)Continuous live broadcast.
Once released one by one on July 12, 2022, new images captured by JWST will be available for viewing via the NASA website. (Opens in a new tab) It will be available at the same time on social media. You can also experience these images revealed via a real-time telecast at 10:30 a.m. EDT and hear from NASA experts in a live broadcast on NASA’s YouTube TV channel, scheduled at the same time.
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