James Webb’s instruments are aligned and telescope sends sharp test photos

The instruments of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope are aligned and the first test images of stars show that the device’s scientific instruments are now producing sharp images.

James Webb’s alignment has been completed, according to NASA, allowing the telescope to move through the next phase and begin real scientific work in the summer. For demonstration NASA publishes test photos taken with various instruments, including details to demonstrate the sharpness of the images.

For the test, NASA pointed the telescope at the Large Magellanic Cloud, a relatively small galaxy near the Milky Way. Each instrument has established its own part of the system. These are images of the three instruments NIRCam, Niriss and MIRI, each of which registers separate wavelengths. Then there’s NIRSpec, a spectrograph that can also take images for calibration purposes. Finally, NASA shows an image of the Fine Guidance Sensor, which has two sensors to track stars, but can also take images for calibration.

The test images are not only intended to determine sharpness, but also to measure the alignment of the sensors as part of the calibration procedure. The next step for NASA is to get all the scientific instruments ready. Each instrument has its own parts, such as lenses and filters, and settings need to be adjusted and combinations tried to work properly.

NASA will aim the telescope at different parts of the universe in the coming time to determine the thermal stability. James Webb has to endure different amounts of radiation from the sun. The procedure for getting the instruments ready takes about two months. After that, James Webb can finally start his scientific work.