The alignment of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is now complete. After a full review, the observatory has been confirmed to be capable of capturing crisp, well-focused images with each of its four powerful onboard science instruments.
This process will take about two months before scientific operations begin in the summer.
The space observatory’s massive mirror, capable of peering into the most distant reaches of space, is now completely aligned, according to NASA’s Webb team.
Hailed as the world’s premier space observatory, Webb has successfully completed a number of steps within the past few months that were crucial for aligning its 18 gold mirror segments.
The mirror is so large that it had to be folded to fit inside the rocket for its December 25 launch. After reaching an orbit a million miles from Earth in January, Webb began the careful process of unfolding and aligning its mirror.
The science instrument commissioning phase involves tuning the highly sophisticated set of detectors equipped with unique lenses, masks, filters, and customized equipment that helps it perform the science it was designed to achieve.
As part of scientific instrument commissioning, the telescope will be commanded to point to different areas in the sky where the total amount of solar radiation hitting the observatory will vary to confirm thermal stability when changing targets.