NASA’s acclaimed $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope was launched on December 25, 2021 to replace the Hubble Space Telescope. Nearly seven months after its launch, images have finally been produced in what NASA says is a rendering containing the deepest views of the universe ever recorded!
Expected to be released on July 12, 2022, the images are amazing and reportedly beautiful enough to almost bring NASA astrophysicist (Thomas Zurbuchen) to tears. The hard work has paid off, as the JWST shows us a whole new perspective of space and a comprehensive view of the universe like we’ve never seen before.
With the coolest camera array in the solar system, we’ve all had a taste of the very first images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope (opens in new tab) as early as April in the form of tester images, where it was compared in quality to the now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope, which was first launched in 2003.
Technology has come in leaps and bounds since then, and the improved detail and sharpness of these technical test images (opens in new tab) were possible thanks to the JWST’s large (7x larger than the Spitzer) segmented honeycomb mirrors with an overall length of 21.5 feet.
However, these latest expected images (about 10-20 predicted) are said to be so beautiful that Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, was almost in tears when he first saw them, as per a recent press conference was explained.
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According to Zurbuchen, the first full-color images captured by the telescope are intended to offer a “new worldview” into the cosmos that is deeply personal.” He says: “It’s an emotional moment when you see nature suddenly revealing some of its secrets, and I want you to imagine and look forward to that.”
The most powerful telescope and space observatory ever launched into space, the JWST was designed primarily for performing infrared astronomy and capturing the faintest light in the universe from the first generation of stars and galaxies, formed over 13.8 billion years ago years were created at the time of the Big Bang.
Since its launch in December, the JWST has managed to unfold in origami style and get into the position it will remain in for the course of its mission through 2028, and it has also successfully got all of its segmented mirrors in place and Spot aligned, 18 in total.
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By observing the past and looking beyond the radiance of light that is yet to reach us, the images produced by the JWST are likely to surpass the Hubble Space Telescope’s previous ultra-deep-field survey image, which captured nearly ten thousand galaxies, with the oldest visible galaxies date back to around 800 million years after the Big Bang. With a much larger primary mirror, the JWST is able to see invisible light that is penetrated by infrared waves much better.
Scientists plan to use the JWST to peer into the atmospheres of other worlds, looking for signs of potential life or habitability in the form of traces of ammonia, water and methane gas and other biosignature discoveries. A soon-to-be golden age in our understanding of the wider universe, this may just be the tip of the iceberg of what NASA has up its sleeve when it comes to studying the spectrum of exoplanets.
Deputy NASA Administrator Pam Melroy stated, “What I saw moved me as a scientist, as an engineer, and as a person.” If this anticipated NASA pictorial reveal lives up to the current hype next week, we’re going to be pretty damn excited.
Join the other astronomers, scientists, engineers, astrophotographers, and pretty much around the world who are fascinated by the possibilities and potential of what this new golden age of space imaging means for the evolving understanding of our Universe, and imagine sure to set your calendars for Wednesday 12th July 2022.
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Check out the JWST image countdown (opens in new tab) Landing page in anticipation of the release of the first light image and get live updates by visiting the official NASA TV YouTube channel (opens in new tab)for a continuous live stream.
Once the new images captured by JWST are released individually on July 12, 2022, they will be available to view through NASA’s website (opens in new tab) and at the same time made available on social media. You can also view these images via a real-time television broadcast at 10:30 a.m. EST and hear from NASA experts on the live stream taking place on NASA TV’s YouTube channel scheduled for the same time.
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