NASA James Webb Space Telescope Alignment Completed – Capturing Sharp, Focused Images

NASA James Webb Space Telescope Alignment Completed – Capturing Sharp, Focused Images

James Webb Space Telescope Primary Mirror Alignment
James Webb Space Telescope Primary Mirror Alignment

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s Webb in full concentration, ready for instrument commissioning

The alignment of[{” attribute=””>NASA’s Webb Space Telescope Image Sharpness Test

Webb Space Telescope Image Sharpness Test. Credit: NASA/STScI

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 Lee Feinberg, Webb optical telescope element manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Webb telescope completes the alignment phase. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The telescope’s optical performance continues to be better than the engineering team’s most optimistic predictions. Webb’s mirrors now direct fully focused light collected from space downward into each instrument, and each instrument successfully captures images with the light delivered to them. The image quality delivered to all instruments is “diffraction limited”, which means that the fineness of visible detail is as good as physically possible given the size of the telescope. From this point on, the only changes to the mirrors will be very small periodic adjustments to the primary mirror segments.

“With the completion of the telescope alignment and half-life efforts, my role in the James Webb Space Telescope mission has come to an end,” said Frontline Detection and Control Scientist Scott Acton. Webb wave, Ball Aerospace. “These images profoundly changed the way I see the universe. We are surrounded by a symphony of creation; there are galaxies everywhere! I hope everyone in the world can see them.

Webb Telescope Image Sharpness Test

Engineered images of perfectly focused stars in each instrument’s field of view demonstrate that the telescope is fully aligned and in focus. For this test, Webb pointed to a portion of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy to the Milky Way, providing a dense field of hundreds of thousands of stars through all of the observatory’s sensors. The sizes and positions of the images shown here describe the relative arrangement of each of Webb’s instruments in the telescope’s focal plane, each pointing to a slightly offset part of the sky from each other. Webb’s three imaging instruments are NIRCam (images shown here at a wavelength of 2 microns), NIRISS (image shown here at 1.5 microns) and MIRI (shown at 7.7 microns, a wavelength of longer wave revealing emission from interstellar clouds as well as starlight). NIRSpec is a spectrograph rather than an imager, but can take images, such as the 1.1 micron image shown here, for calibrations and target acquisition. The dark regions visible in parts of the NIRSpec data are due to the structures of its micro-shutter array, which has several hundred thousand controllable shutters that can be opened or closed to select the light sent into the spectrograph. Finally, Webb’s Fine Guidance Sensor tracks guide stars to point the observatory with precision and precision; its two sensors are not typically used for scientific imaging but can take calibration images such as those shown here. This image data is used not only to assess image sharpness, but also to accurately measure and calibrate subtle image distortions and alignments between sensors as part of the overall instrument calibration process. Webb. Credit: NASA/STScI

Going forward, the Webb team will focus on commissioning scientific instruments. Each instrument is a highly sophisticated set of detectors fitted with unique custom lenses, masks, filters and equipment that help it achieve the science for which it was designed. The specialized features of these instruments will be configured and operated in various combinations during the commissioning phase of the instruments to fully confirm their readiness for science. With the official conclusion of the telescope alignment, key personnel involved in commissioning each instrument arrived at the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Mission Operations Center in Baltimore, and some personnel involved in the alignment of the telescope have completed their tasks.

Although the telescope alignment has been completed, some telescope calibration activities remain: As part of the commissioning of the science instrument, the telescope will be ordered to point to different areas of the sky where the total amount of radiation solar hitting the observatory will vary to confirm thermal stability when changing. targets. Additionally, continuous maintenance observations every two days will monitor the alignment of the mirrors and, if necessary, apply corrections to keep the mirrors in their aligned locations.

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