NASA's Largest, Most Complex Space Telescope to Release First Images on July 12

Illustration of  NASA's Webb space telescope 9 photos
Photo: NASA
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It's been six months since NASA's $10 billion James Webb telescope was launched into space. During these months, Webb has been calibrating its instruments and aligning its massive mirrors in order to prepare to take its first sharp pictures of the universe. But the waiting's almost over.
On July 12, the powerful observatory will release the first color images. It's been six months full of surprises. On April 28, NASA confirmed that Webb's mirrors are fully aligned and in focus. We've got glimpses of what the telescope is capable of as it beamed back a shockingly crisp image of a star-filled small galaxy using MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument).

Now, scientists are getting closer to wrapping up preparations. After each of Webb's four instruments is thoroughly tested, the engineering teams will give the green light for science operations.

This complex process is called the instrument commissioning phase, and it should come to an end next month. Until then, researchers will go through a pre-selected list of elements in order to properly check Webb's capabilities. Then, data will be converted into photos for both astronomers and the general public.

While the images that we've seen so far are already incredibly sharp, scientists expect the new pictures to be far more impressive. Webb will also capture spectroscopic data, which offers detailed information regarding the physical properties and chemical composition of celestial bodies.

"The release of Webb's first full-color images will offer a unique moment for us all to stop and marvel at a view humanity has never seen before," said Eric Smith, Webb program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These images will be the culmination of decades of dedication, talent, and dreams – but they will also be just the beginning," he added.

The initial set of data will reveal more about the early galaxies, stars, and other planets, marking the begging of Webb's science observations. After it releases its first full-color images, the telescope will continue to peer into all phases of cosmic history and help scientists search for signs of possibly habitable worlds.

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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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