James Webb Space Telescope to release its first science-quality pictures on July 12

James Webb Space Telescope to release its first science-quality pictures on July 12

Following half a year of commissioning in space, NASA will release the first operational pictures taken by the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope on July 12, as per an organization statement posted Wednesday (June 1). While Webb authorities are still keeping those first imaging targets secret, the organization accentuated that it required five years of work among the few taking an interest space agencies to decide what those first pictures will show.

“Our goals for Webb’s first images and data are both to showcase the telescope’s powerful instruments and to preview the science mission to come,” astronomer Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, said in the statement(opens in new tab). “They are sure to deliver a long-awaited ‘wow’ for astronomers and the public.”

Albeit the Webb team has shared a few pictures as of now, these were all interim alignment pictures required to assess the observatory’s capabilities. The July 12 pictures will come after each instrument is “calibrated, tested, and given the green light by its science and engineering team,” as indicated by NASA.

NASA stressed that regardless of the all the months of careful alignment since the Dec. 25, 2021, launch of Webb, it is challenging to predict precisely the way in which the new pictures will look. The high-resolution infrared perspective on the universe will be extraordinary, as Webb works in deep space and has a 18-segment hexagonal mirror that gathers sharp pictures expected to show the first galaxies, early in the history of the universe.

The new pictures will be accessible in full color and will be intended to show the breadth of Webb’s science capabilities, NASA said. This implies the pictures won’t just be incorporated, yet in addition spectroscopic information to show elemental composition and other data that astronomers can derive from the spectrum of light.

“The first images package of materials will highlight the science themes that inspired the mission and will be the focus of its work: the early universe, the evolution of galaxies through time, the lifecycle of stars, and other worlds,” NASA said. “All of Webb’s commissioning data — the data taken while aligning the telescope and preparing the instruments — will also be made publicly available.”

While we hang tight for the large uncover, we in all actuality do know what Webb will focus on in its first year of operations, called Cycle 1. The organization has as of now published the list of planned investigations following a competition within the science community to decide the highest-priority work, a process that will repeat each year of the observatory’s lifetime.

“As we near the end of preparing the observatory for science, we are on the precipice of an incredibly exciting period of discovery about our universe,” Eric Smith, Webb program scientist at NASA, said in the statement. “These images will be the culmination of decades of dedication, talent, and dreams — but they will also be just the beginning.”

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