The James Webb Space Telescope was launched on December 25 last year and has already successfully completed its major deployments.
As the device heads towards Lagrange point 2 (L2), which is its final destination and is located between the Earth and the Sun 1.5 million kilometers from our planet, those in charge of the mission wonder what the first image will be that the telescope will observe.
“Ugly and blurry”
James Webb features 18 hexagonal mirror segments that have to be gradually aligned to form a single, near-perfect light-gathering surface.
For this, the apparatus must take images of the sky; it is a necessary stage that will allow us to observe how the alignment process is going.
Jane Rigby, Webb operations project scientist, clarified that there is not much to expect from this “first light” of the telescope.
“The first images are going to be ugly. They will be blurry. We will have 18 of these small images throughout the sky”, explained the researcher during a press conference.
Those in charge of the mission did not explain if they intend to publish these first images.
What they did explain is that this problem is due to the primary mirror segments being off by millimeters at first, which relates to a degree of inaccuracy when trying to focus on a distant exoplanet or see the stars of a galaxy. just as distant.
The good news is that by April 24 (mission day 120), engineers expect the telescope to observe much more accurately after the alignment procedure is complete.
“I like to think of it as if we have 18 mirrors who are, right now, little prima donnas, all doing their own thing, singing their own tune in whatever key they’re on,” added Rigby.
“We have to make them work like a choir, and that’s a methodical and painstaking process.”