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NASA publishes first images of JWST progress

A mosaic of images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, showing the images of a single star. Credit: NASA

Edinburgh, 15 February 2022. – The first set of images taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) shows that the spacecraft’s primary mirror is performing as expected as it initiated its seven-step alignment process of 18 individual mirror segments. The mirror segments need to work together as a single optical surface to produce high-precision images.

NASA released an image mosaic taken by JWST’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam). The images captured the selected target star, HD 84406. As the segmented primary mirror of JWST has not been aligned yet, the mosaic consists of 18 individual images of the star.

That results match what simulations predicted at this phase in the mirror alignment, however, flaws cannot be ruled out yet. These images also tested the NIRCam itself and thus confirmed that it was operating as designed. The camera provided a “selfie” of the primary mirror as well, showing one of the mirrors illuminated with starlight.

Once the alignment is complete, the Webb team will prepare the instruments for science observations. The first science images and data are expected during the summer.

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