James Webb Space Telescope begins three-month alignment process, detects first photons in space

Deepak Gupta
Deepak Gupta February 7, 2022
Updated 2022/02/07 at 7:19 AM

NASA began a three-month process to align the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) so that the $10 billion (approximately Rs. 74,710 crore) observatory could begin doing what it was sent to: study the universe like never before. before. It has also recently seen the first particles of light traveling across the entire telescope. So far, this is the closest scientists have come to accomplishing their ultimate goal with the telescope. During the initial process, the images remain blurry and scientists will slowly use them to adjust the telescope. The observatory is expected to be science-ready this summer.

The agency said James Webb’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) detected the first photons of starlight traveling through the telescope. A team of engineers and scientists will now use data obtained with NIRCam to gradually align the telescope’s 18 mirrors to form a new lens, NASA added.

James Webb was launched aboard an Ariane 5 rocket at Christmas last year. Since then, scientists have performed several processes to unfold it. Exactly one month after launch, the telescope arrived at Lagrange Point 2 (L2), about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth on its night side, from where it will quietly observe the intriguing events of the cosmos. L2 is a gravitationally stable point in space.

John Mather, the lead scientist on the project, recently said that the “telescope instruments are cooling down”, but they have started to detect individual particles of light (photons). according to one report by Space.com, Mather, a Nobel Prize winner and astrophysicist, said there were no images yet to show the world, but he hoped they would be able to develop images soon.

NASA said in a statement that the telescope’s commissioning process will take much longer than previous space telescopes because James Webb’s primary mirror consists of 18 individual mirror segments that need to work together as a single, high-precision optical surface. .

It will take James Webb about another five months to go through a rigorous commissioning process to actually start his work. Its images are expected to be different from those captured by the Hubble telescope as it will see things largely in the infrared, whereas Hubble uses different infrared wavelengths along with visible light.

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