Paris, Apr 29, 2022 (AFP) – The James Webb space telescope, located 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, has completed its phase of aligning its science instruments, now operational to explore the far reaches of the Universe, NASA announced.
The four powerful instruments, three imagers and a spectrograph, successfully aligned themselves with the main mirror (6.5 meters in diameter), whose deployment ended in early January, two weeks after the take-off of the James Webb Telescope (JWST) from French Guiana.
Each has reached its “operating temperature” and is now ready to work, NASA detailed Thursday in a statement.
Pending the first images of scientific observations, the instruments have confirmed that they are capable of “capturing sharp, well-directed images”.
Like the images of stars and gas of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite dwarf galaxy of the Milky Way, taken by the Mirim instrument. “This first image was magnificent because we saw the quality of the images we were looking for,” Pierre-Olivier Lagage, Mirim’s scientific director at CEA, commented on Twitter.
“Everything is going well and now I’m sure there will be ‘transformational’ science. I’m quite sure that with the JWST we will advance science by leaps and bounds,” added the emotional astrophysicist.
“These test images demonstrate what people from many countries and continents can achieve when there is a bold scientific vision to explore the universe,” commented Lee Feinberg, responsible for elements of the Webb Optical Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
At a cost of 10 billion dollars, James Webb is awaited by astronomers around the world and should allow to observe in particular the first galaxies, formed only about 200 million years after the Big Bang.