Like James Webb Space Telescope The lengthy process of aligning the 18 primary mirror segments begins, and it’s a burning question in the astronomical community: What will the massive observatory look at first?
Webb successfully climbed into space on December 25 and successfully completed major deployments about two weeks later as he sped toward his final destination: Earth Sun Lagrange Point 2 (L2), a gravitationally stable spot in space about 930,000 miles (1.5 million km) from our planet.
telescope included 18 pcs hexagonal mirror that need to be gradually aligned into one nearly perfect light-gathering surface. A necessary part of the process is taking pictures of the sky to see how well the alignment has progressed, but Jane Rigby, Webb’s operations project scientist, cautioned everyone not to expect too much of Webb’s “first light.”
“The first pictures will be ugly. They will be blurry. We will do it [have] Rigby told reporters during a press conference broadcast live on Saturday (January 8) to discuss successful publishing from Webb’s primary 21.3-foot (6.3 m) mirror that day. Rigby was speaking from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, where telescope operations are based.
Live updates: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope mission
Webb’s team members didn’t say during the press conference if they planned to release those “ugly” early photos. Parts of the primary mirror will initially move away from millimeters, which is a significant degree of inaccuracy when it comes to focusing on a planet far from the Solar System or seeing stars in a distant galaxy.
But by about day 120 of the mission, around April 24, engineers expect the telescope to see with much greater accuracy, with the alignment procedure complete.
“I like to think of it as if we had 18 mirrors, right now, little Donna, all doing their own thing, singing their own tune in whatever key they are in,” Rigby said. “We have to make them work like a chorus, and this is a systematic and arduous process.”
The next major question is what will focus the Web first. The observatory, which has been described as the successor to this pioneering project Hubble Space Telescope Launched in 1990, it received many “telescope time” requests among astronomers, the vast majority of which had to be turned down. few Early Science Programs It’s listed on the NASA website, but it wasn’t revealed where Webb would look first.
However, we do know some of the engineering alignment targets that the observatory will examine during the early commissioning.
We have some resources [of] Rigby said, “Nice, uniform brightness, so we can check how the detectors work… There are a lot of these targets in Large Magellanic Cloud, because we can always see the north and south poles of the ecliptic. They are always available.”
Rigby added that the team chose several targets for the commissioning period in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy relatively close to the Milky Way, because it would always be in sight no matter when Webb was launched. “We knew we wouldn’t have to re-plan if the launch date changed,” she said.
This consistency was, in retrospect, a wise choice, as Webb’s release date has been repeatedly delayed in the past few weeks alone due to last-minute issues, including Wrong data cable and random Release the band clamp During preparations for launch. All issues were successfully resolved before launch.