Webb Telescope mirrors are completely aligned and focused – first images obtained
NASA scientists working on the James Webb telescope have completely aligned the massive mirrors of the space observatory. This means that the team can move on to customize the tools and prepare them for clear photos of space.
Back in January, the Webb telescope completed the deployment of a set of 18 mirrors. They will be used to direct light from space objects to imaging tools. However, to focus this light correctly, the mirrors were being carefully aligned for three months.
In March, the mirrors were aligned with the telescope’s main instrument, the near-infrared camera. This allowed it to focus and capture a crystal clear image of a bright star. The team then continued to align the mirrors according to other telescope instruments. Now the work on them is completed.
The team confirmed that the mirrors are aligned and direct light on all four instruments, a series of test photos that cover the entire field of view of the telescope. According to scientists, the optical characteristics of the telescope continue to exceed their most optimistic expectations.
“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,” says Lee Feinberg, NASA manager who worked on the telescope.
With mirrors in position, scientists can move on to commissioning scientific tools. Unique lenses, masks, filters, and other devices that ensure the operation of extremely complex tools must be carefully adjusted over the next two months. The telescope should be ready for scientific operations by the middle of this year.