NASA has released new photos from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) that demonstrate Webb’s optical performance will exceed the project’s ambitious targets. The photographs feature a ‘selfie’ taken by the telescope that shows the mirror alignment process in progress. These are the highest resolution infrared images taken from space ever.
“We got together and looked at the very first diffraction-emitted images that came out of the Webb Telescope, and what we collective saw as a group is we have the highest resolution infrared images taken from space ever,” said a scientist Scott Acton in a video released by NASA.
The ‘fine phasing’ step of mirror alignment was performed on March 11 by Webb scientists. First, using NIRCam equipment, each primary mirror section was modified to create a single unified image of a single bright star. Later, the NASA engineers perfectly aligned NIRCam to the telescope’s mirrors after the fine phasing stage.
All-optical parameters were evaluated and checked to ensure that they were operating at or above expectations. In Webb’s optical path, they found no severe issues, quantified pollution, or impediments.
“In addition to enabling the incredible science that Webb will achieve, the teams that designed, built, tested, launched, and now operate this observatory have pioneered a new way to build space telescopes,” said Lee Feinberg a Webb optical telescope element manager at NASA.