Photo: NASA/ESA/CSA/STSCI / Courtesy
The US space agency NASA achieved an important milestone in the preparation of the new James Webb Space Telescope.
After completing a critical step in aligning its mirrors, NASA released the first sharp image generated by the $10 billion space observatory.
The protagonist of the test is a star that appears with a sharp performance which, according to NASA engineers, is much better than expected.
To get to this stage, all of Webb’s mirrors had to be aligned within tiny fractions of the width of a human hair.
But the agency warns that there are still months of work to be done before the telescope can be declared operational and deliver its new view of the cosmos. Lee Feinberg, the NASA engineer who led the development of Webb’s optical elements, described as “terrific” the issue from the first image focused correctly.
“Not only do you see the star and the diffraction spikes from the star, but you also see other stars in the field that are in close focus, just as we expect, and all sorts of other interesting structures in the background,” Feinberg told the press
“In fact, we have done a very detailed analysis of the images that we are obtaining and, so far, what we have found is that performance is as good, if not better, than our prediction mmore optimistic“, he added.
The James Webb, which was presented as the successor to the famous Hubble Space Telescope, was launched last December 25 by an Ariane-5 rocket from French Guiana.
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