NASA to Discuss Webb Telescope Alignment, Instrument Setup

NASA will hold a media teleconference at 11 a.m. EDT on Monday, May 9, to discuss progress toward preparing the James Webb Space Telescope for science operations. The agency will livestream audio of the teleconference on its website.

Webb will explore every phase of cosmic history – from within the solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe, and everything in between. Participants will discuss the recent completion of mirror alignment and preview what to expect for Webb’s final months of science instrument preparations.

Teleconference participants include:

Michael McElwain, Webb observatory project scientist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Christopher Evans, Webb project scientist, European Space Agency
Jean Dupuis, space astronomy senior mission scientist, Canadian Space Agency
Marcia Rieke, principal investigator for Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera and regents professor of astronomy, University of Arizona
Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist, Space Telescope Science Institute
To ask questions during the teleconference, media must RSVP no later than two hours before the event to Laura Betz at: laura.e.betz@nasa.gov. NASA’s media accreditation policy is available online.

In early February, the Webb team successfully captured starlight through each of Webb’s 18 mirror segments. Over the following months, as Webb’s science instruments cooled to their operating temperatures, the team progressed through the seven stages of mirror alignment. With the successful completion of the final stage in late April, all four of Webb’s science instruments can now capture sharp, focused images.

Now, the team will take about two months to prepare and test the science instruments – a process known as instrument commissioning – before Webb’s first science images and spectra debut in the summer.

NASA has a digital media kit as well as image and video galleries online. The public also can follow Webb’s progress via a “Where is Webb?” interactive tracker.

Webb, an international partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency, launched Dec. 25 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. After unfolding into its final form in space and successfully reaching its destination 1 million miles from Earth, the observatory is now in the months-long process of preparing for science operations.

 

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