It was a long road to get this far but now the James Webb Space Telescope is ready to go even further on its journey to map out the stars as NASA just announced that all of the cameras for it are now online.
Of course, this is just the start of the three-month-long process of aligning the telescope but, after that, the James Webb Space Telescope should be ready to join the likes of Hubble.
From NASA’s blog on the process:
“To work together as a single mirror, the telescope’s 18 primary mirror segments need to match each other to a fraction of a wavelength of light – approximately 50 nanometers. To put this in perspective, if the Webb primary mirror were the size of the United States, each segment would be the size of Texas, and the team would need to line the height of those Texas-sized segments up with each other to an accuracy of about 1.5 inches.”
The seven-step process is designed to be modular which means that the team can go back and iterate on previous steps to make sure the telescope is operating at optimal levels, NASA writes. And while three months might sound like a long time, given the history of the James Webb Space Telescope and its origins in the 1990s, a couple more months isn’t really anything at all.
Initial images taken during this stage are what NASA is calling “pretty” which we take to mean as a kind of preliminary stage before the real hard science work begins. Those should be released over the coming months.
You can read up on the James Webb Space Telescope over here at NASA.
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