The James Webb telescope is fully aligned. NASA shared the update in a new post on Thursday, April 28. The space-based telescope will help usher in a new age for space observation. The telescope reached its final destination earlier this year. Since then, NASA has slowly been preparing it for operations. NASA will use the telescope to give astronomers access to data and observations they can’t get with Hubble and other older telescope systems.
The James Webb telescope is fully aligned
Despite James Webb being fully aligned, there’s still at least one final series of preparations to meet. NASA said that the spacecraft will now enter a phase known as science instrument commissioning. This will take around two months to complete. During that process, the team will turn its attention to each science instrument on the James Webb.
The space agency made each instrument is using a variety of highly sophisticated detectors. NASA has equipped these detectors with different lenses, filters, masks, and other equipment it customized for the spacecraft. The team will configure each detector over the next two months to ensure they are running at peak condition.
Once the team has completed all the configurations, though, the telescope will be ready for scientific operations. But what exactly does the James Webb telescope being fully aligned mean? Well, it essentially means the team has aligned all of the sensors for the best quality image capturing. This means it will provide the sharpest and highest quality images they are capable of. In fact, NASA says the test images are coming back better than the team’s most optimistic predictions.
Webb’s future operations
The telescope has been in the works one way or another since 1989. Now, over 30 years later, it’s finally a reality. NASA has a laundry list of things to observe with the James Webb telescope now that the agency has fully aligned it.
The telescope is meant to act as a complement to the observations and discoveries we’ve already made with the Hubble Space Telescope. The sensors onboard will use infrared technology to provide more detailed looks at star systems and other things we’ve discovered in space. One of the primary missions the telescope has is to learn more about the early universe.
When we look into galaxies far away, we’re able to see how those stars looked millions of years ago. That’s because of how long it takes light to travel from those distant places. With the James Webb fully aligned, it is extremely powerful. As such, it can see a lot further than our current telescopes can. And, it can see in even greater detail.
NASA also hopes to learn more about how galaxies formed, and how they change over time. This list of missions will no doubt continue to grow. For now, though, we can revel in the fact that we’ve reached yet another milestone. Now that NASA has finished aligning the James Webb telescope it is almost ready for operations. Great job, everyone.