NASA’s Next Generation Observatory is entering the final stages of preparation before it can show scientists an entirely new view of the universe.
Engineers are preparing to make final adjustments to the instruments on board James Webb Space Telescope The observatory is preparing for operations this summer. NASA said the telescope has “calibrations and instrument characterizations using a rich variety of astronomical sources” that will appear soon to make sure everything is up and running before Webb is free to examine the early universe.
Scott Friedman, Webb chief scientist at the Space Science Telescope Institute in Baltimore, said in a statement NASA statement Thursday (5 May).
Although no telescope can accurately collect every photon that comes at it, engineers will still want to know the throughput at several light wavelengths to assess Webb’s performance in collecting infrared light, Friedman said.
Friedman emphasized that the commissioning was “close to completion,” as the telescope was in the final two months of operation, which began after Web . launch on December 25, 2021. Once the instruments have been properly evaluated, he said, “we shall be ready to begin the great scientific programs that astronomers and the public alike have been eagerly awaiting.”
The team released some commissioning photos along the way, and a notable commissioning goal will soon come into focus: Large Magellanic Cloud. While Friedman did not say whether this Hungarian neighbor of Milky Way They will be included in early release images, and he noted that a galaxy scan would be useful to calibrate any distortion.
The Webb Telescope will also be evaluated further for the sharpness of the stellar images, by all instrument optics. Friedman notes that each instrument performs well with the optics tested so far, but that additional filters and an instrument called “diffraction gratings” (which spread light into component colors) will also be evaluated.
The team will also certify the observatory’s acquisition of the target to ensure that the telescope can point accurately to a hundredth of an arcsecond, which would be useful for extrasolar planet Notes.
“The star must be placed behind a mask so that its light is blocked, allowing the nearby exoplanet to shine through,” Friedman said. “In time series observations, we measure how the atmosphere of an exoplanet absorbs starlight during the hours it takes to pass in front of its star, allowing us to measure the properties and components of the planet’s atmosphere.”
The last final test activity will be observing moving targets such as planets, satellites and rings asteroids and comets. “Observing these things requires that the observatory change its orientation relative to the background of the guide stars during the observations,” Friedman said. “We will test this ability by observing asteroids with different apparent velocities with each instrument.”
NASA plans to update the public on Webb’s progress on Monday (May 9) and the discussion will be broadcast live Available online.