The first full-color photos from the James Webb Telescope are coming

The first images from NASA’s next-generation James Webb Space Telescope are due to be released next month and will include the deepest view of the universe ever recorded, agency officials confirmed on Wednesday.

NASA and its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, will unveil the first color images from the Webb telescope in a highly anticipated event on July 12. The $10 billion observatory is mankind’s largest, most powerful space telescope, and experts have said it could revolutionize our understanding of the cosmos.

Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said seeing the first images from the Webb telescope will be an emotional milestone for mankind – a moment he described as witnessing nature “reveal secrets that… have existed for many, many decades, centuries, millennia.”

“It’s not a picture. It’s a new worldview,” Zurbuchen said in a press conference on Wednesday.

The release will be streamed live from NASA at 10:30 am EDT. In addition to the deepest infrared view yet recorded of the Universe, NASA officials said they will release the first spectrum of an exoplanet from the Webb Telescope, showing light emitted at different wavelengths from a planet in another star system. These images could offer new insights into the atmospheres and chemical composition of other exoplanets in the cosmos.

Other images included in the initial release will be photos showing how galaxies interact and grow, and those depicting the life cycle of stars, from the formation of new galaxies to the violent death of stars.

The Webb Telescope will continue to bounce back data in the run-up to the July 12 event, but NASA Assistant Administrator Pam Melroy said she was impressed with what she’s seen so far.

“I couldn’t help myself,” Melroy said of the first images. “What I saw just moved me as a scientist, as an engineer and as a person.”

The Webb Telescope was launched on December 25, 2021. The tennis court-sized observatory can look deeper and in more detail into the cosmos than any telescope that has existed before.

NASA has spent the last six months configuring the in-orbit observatory and testing its various scientific instruments. Agency officials said the telescope is better than expected and has enough fuel on board to last 20 years.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, who virtually attended Wednesday’s briefing because he tested positive for Covid-19, said scientists are only beginning to understand what the Webb telescope can and will do.

“It will study objects in the Solar System and atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars and give us clues as to whether their atmospheres might resemble our own,” he said. “It can answer some of the questions we have: where do we come from? What else is out there? Who are we? And of course it will answer some questions we don’t even know what the questions are. So in many ways, Webb’s journey has just begun.”