Today I’m happy to share an update on our blog about the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Eight months ago, leading up to the launch, we wondered whether the amazing feat of engineering would be successful. Then, we released an update in April 2022 when the first test image returned crystal clear and inspiring. Now, we had to share an update highlighting the first mission-related images NASA released this week!
To be successful, the telescope launched into space folded up. Then, it had to slowly unfold and align to incredibly fine specifications!
James Webb telescope launched about a million miles into space in December of 2021.
So much could have gone wrong!
And, it didn’t.
One of the trickiest aspects of James Webb is the mirror alignment. The collection area for Webb is 6.25 times greater than Hubble’s. This large mirror is key to “seeing back into time” to capture light from distant parts of the universe.
These mirrors are essential for the major benefit of Webb over Hubble: Seeing more stars, more distant objects, more solar systems.
Three weeks ago alignment was confirmed, though adjustments continue.
In fact, you can watch NASA representatives explain how mirror alignment works in this video.
Back in April, we shared news that the photos coming back from James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have been even more spectacular than scientists hoped. At that time, we only had a test photo of an unremarkable star. Now, we have, in NASA’s words, “the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date.”
Well, now that the first images have been released to the public by NASA, we can all see for ourselves the astounding clarity and detail in the JWST images. The image shown above reveals a ring nebulae. See all of the photos on the NASA website.
We’re already learning from the images captured by the JWST. Thanks to the precision images, NASA has confirmed that the planet labeled WASP-96 b shows evidence of water, clouds, and haze. This gas giant planet orbits a sun similar to ours! Signs of life, perhaps?
If you enjoyed this James Webb Space Telescope update, check out our earlier blog post on the transformer telescope for more about its manufacturing and engineering.
Have an existing innovation story to share? We want to hear it!
Image credit: NASA