The last major step in the development of the Webb space telescope, checking the alignment of all the instruments, has been successfully completed and all the instruments seem to be at the correct operating temperature. NASA has released images taken of the Large Magellanic Cloud to show the clarity obtained.
The image shows snapshots from each of Webb’s three imaging instruments, plus its spectrograph and guidance sensor. The images show a field of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a galaxy near the Milky Way about 158,000 light-years away. If it orbits our galaxy, it would be, by far, the largest satellite galaxy. But there’s a chance it’s just passing through or slowly merging with our galaxy.
Now that the imaging instruments are properly aligned, NASA and its partners will begin commissioning several science instruments. These are components within the imaging instruments that can do things like filter certain kinds of light, adjust the cameras to specific customizations, or apply a particular lens. That could take a few months, as could a few calibrations to confirm that the telescope is temperature-stable when it moves between targets. During that time, mission control will also monitor mirror alignment to make sure it stays in place.
NASA has also released a video of the event.
In a few months we should start receiving images of parts of the universe we have never seen before.
Matt G says
It’s amazing how well things have worked. I haven’t seen a single story of a step that hasn’t gone according to plan.
Mano, In “The last major step in the development of the Webb space telescope…” I think you meant deployment. The instrument has long-since been developed and built, and is now finishing its pre-operational deployment phase. (Yes, this is a nit.)