DH Latest NewsDH NEWSUSLatest NewsNEWSInternational

NASA releases first ‘selfie’ photograph sent by James Webb Space Telescope

The first photographs obtained by the James Webb Space Telescope were released by NASA on Friday: a “selfie” of the observatory’s 21.3-foot-wide primary mirror and a mosaic of numerous images of a bland star used to align the telescope’s 18 segments.

While the fuzzy, misaligned images may surprise the inexperienced, they are virtually exactly what engineers were expecting at this point in the intricate commissioning of the observatory, 48 days after its Christmas Day launch.

“Not only has this incredible telescope spread its wings, but it has also opened its eyes,” said Lee Feinberg, Webb optical elements manager.

NASA is currently aligning the 18 hexagonal segments that comprise Webb’s massive main mirror, painstakingly changing the tilt of each one in microscopic increments to align the numerous reflections of target stars into a single beam similar to that produced by a one-piece mirror.

So far, the painstaking job has gone fairly smoothly, according to Feinberg, with no major snags or failures.

“The only thing I’d like to point out is that it’s still early,” he remarked. “At this time, we do not have full analyses on anything. However, based on our preliminary assessments, everything matches the models as well as we would anticipate the models to work at this point.”

Webb’s first three weeks in space were spent deploying its solar array and high-speed antenna, secondary mirror, six of the 18 segments of the primary mirror that were folded away for launch, and extending a tennis court-size sunshade required to block out the light and heat of the sun, Earth, and moon.


Post Your Comments

Back to top button