Sharp pictures! James Webb Space Telescope completes alignment in huge milestone

NASA's view of deep space just got sharper.

The James Webb Space Telescope finished its alignment phase after demonstrating it can capture “crisp, well-focused images” with all four of its science instruments, the agency announced Wednesday (April 28).

The milestone, which NASA showcased with some new Webb images, allows the mission team to proceed with science instrument commissioning.

The telescope will thus enter a new phase of preparation after several months of mirror and instrument alignments.

This next step will take roughly two months, with Webb remaining on track to finish in June if everything goes to plan.

“These images have profoundly changed the way I see the universe,” Scott Acton, Webb wavefront sensing and controls scientist at Ball Aerospace, said in the NASA statement.

“We are surrounded by a symphony of creation; there are galaxies everywhere. It is my hope that everyone in the world can see them.”

“The optical performance of the telescope continues to be better than the engineering team’s most optimistic predictions,” NASA officials said in the statement, noting that the image quality is only “diffraction limited.”

The next phase of work will include science instrument commissioning, along with telescope calibration.

Instrument commissioning requires lenses, masks, filters and other equipment to work properly in different configurations, to make sure they can perform science work.

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