NASA’s James Webb telescope launch has been a milestone, expanding the horizons of deep space. We know that the James Webb telescope has been working in deep space already. But did you know that the telescope also took a selfie recently? The image reveals how the telescope looks in space, a wonder for astronomers.
James Webb Telescope Takes A Selfie
The James Webb telescope is equipped with some of the most advanced technologies. This also includes a special lens within the telescope’s near-infrared camera (NIRCam) instrument, which allows engineers to take a look at the mirror alignment on the telescope. At the same time, it also creates a panoramic view of the telescope.
NASA has just received one of the first ‘selfies’ from the James Webb telescope that reveals it in complete glory. “I think pretty much the reaction [to the selfie] was, Holy cow,” said Lee Feinberg, the optical telescope element manager at NASA Goddard Space Center during a media update.
The James Webb telescope reveals the gigantic mirrors on the telescope. The NIRCam selfie also revealed that it is receiving sufficient light to image the objects in space. “Even when we tested in Houston, we didn’t have starlight illuminating the primary mirror in this configuration. So, this was actually a new thing for us,” Feinberg explained how the testing on Earth was performed with lighting diodes.
Bonus image! When it’s time to focus, sometimes you need to take a good look at yourself.
This “selfie” taken by Webb of its primary mirror was not captured by an externally mounted engineering camera, but with a special lens within its NIRCam instrument. #UnfoldTheUniverse pic.twitter.com/XtzCdktrCA
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) February 11, 2022
James Webb Telescope NIRCam Explained
The NIRCam plays a vital role on James Webb in discovering and imaging objects in space. NASA explains that the NIRCam is capable of taking images of 18 primary mirror segments. The selfie shared by NASA reveals the bright mirror segment pointing to a bright star. The image also shows that all the mirrors aren’t aligned in that direction yet.
The NASA engineers working on the telescope are moving the mirrors into alignment for its prime purpose of observation. “NIRCam will be used throughout nearly the entire alignment of the telescope’s mirrors,” NASA said of the alignment process. It is, however, important to note that NIRCam is operating far above its ideal temperature while capturing these initial engineering images, and visual artifacts can be seen in the mosaic,” NASA explained.
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Story first published: Sunday, February 13, 2022, 7:30 [IST]