NASA: Here’s what the space agency saw after pointing its Webb space telescope at Jupiter

Since NASA made the first color photographs of the groundbreaking telescope available to the public this week, it’s been a huge week for the James Webb Space Telescope. Images and data taken during the commissioning phase of the oscilloscope are now made available by NASA.

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Although Webb had already reached its intended orbit, it took six months of commissioning to ensure that all of its instruments performed as intended. To test his tools, Webb focused on “local” objects during this time, including Jupiter and some asteroids. Now NASA is releasing this information.

The image shows Jupiter and its moon Europa as seen through Webb’s NIRCam sensor’s 2.12 micron filter. The unique bands that encircle the gas giant, as well as the planet’s Great Red Spot, are easily discernible.


“Combined with the deep field images released the other day, these images of Jupiter demonstrate the full understanding of what Webb can observe, from the faintest and most distant observable galaxies to planets in our cosmic backyard that you can see. with the naked eye from your actual backyard,” said Bryan Holler, a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

Webb was also able to spot some of Jupiter’s rings using the NIRCam’s 3.23 micron filter.

“The images of Jupiter in the narrowband filters were designed to provide beautiful images of the entire disk of the planet, but the wealth of additional information on very faint objects (Métis, Thebes, the main ring, haze) in these images with about one-minute exposures was a very pleasant surprise,” said John Stansberry, observatory scientist and NIRCam commissioning lead at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

The crew was also pleased with Webb’s ability to track target progress. The telescope can track objects moving at speeds of up to 30 milliarcseconds per second, which is faster than Mars. The researchers found in tests with different asteroids that Webb can collect useful data on a target traveling at up to 67 milliarcseconds per second, which is more than twice as fast as expected.

credit: TechSpot

“Everything worked wonderfully,” said Stefanie Milam, Webb Project Assistant Scientist for Planetary Science based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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Elizabeth J. Harless