After full review, the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope has been confirmed to be capable of capturing well-focused images with each of its four science instruments.
Upon completing the seventh and final stage of telescope alignment, the Webb team held a set of key decision meetings and unanimously agreed that the observatory is ready to move forward into its next and final series of preparations, known as science instrument commissioning.
This process will take about two months before scientific operations begin in the summer.
The alignment of the telescope across all of Webb’s instruments can be seen in a series of images that captures the observatory’s full field of view.
“These remarkable test images from a successfully aligned telescope demonstrate what people across countries and continents can achieve when there is a bold scientific vision to explore the Universe,” said Webb optical telescope element manager Lee Feinberg, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The optical performance of the telescope continues to be better than the team’s most optimistic predictions.
Webb’s mirrors are now directing fully focused light collected from space down into each instrument, and each instrument is successfully capturing images with the light being delivered to them.
The image quality delivered to all instruments is diffraction-limited, meaning that the fineness of detail that can be seen is as good as physically possible given the size of the telescope.
From this point forward the only changes to the mirrors will be very small, periodic adjustments to the primary mirror segments.
“With the completion of telescope alignment and half a lifetime’s worth of effort, my role on the James Webb Space Telescope mission has come to an end,” said Webb wavefront sensing and controls scientist Scott Acton, of Ball Aerospace.
“These images have profoundly changed the way we see the Universe.”
“We are surrounded by a symphony of creation; there are galaxies everywhere! It is my hope that everyone in the world can see them.”
Now, the Webb team will turn its attention to science instrument commissioning.
This article is based on text provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
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