NASA’s huge new observatory is getting closer and closer to scientific work.
Since its launch on December 25, 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope has been focused on deploying and configuring its sophisticated equipment. So far, the commissioning of the $10 billion observatory has progressed well, and in late April it demonstrated its ability to take sharp images of distant stars by completing mirror alignment.
NASA and its project partners will now offer updates on the observatory’s current status and next steps. The press conference will take place on Monday (May 9) at 11:00 AM ET (15:00 GMT). You can listen live on Space.com, courtesy of the agency, or directly through the NASA website.
Live Updates: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Mission
Related: How the James Webb Space Telescope works in pictures
The next important step in thermal testing involves deliberately oscillating the telescope between hotter and colder conditions to see how well infrared instruments and mirrors respond to changes in temperature.
But according to NASA officials, the focus over the next two months will be on testing the observatory’s five science instruments. The work includes evaluating the sensitivity and sharpness of the instruments and testing specific observation modes, NASA said.
The observatory is aiming to launch operational science in June as it seeks to learn more about the early universe, exoplanets and other space objects.
The press conference will be attended by:
- Michael McElwain, Webb Observatory Project Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
- Christopher Evans, Project Webb Scientist, European Space Agency
- Jean Dupuis, Senior Scientist in Space Astronomy at the Canadian Space Agency.
- Marcia Riquet, Principal Investigator of the Webb Near-Infrared Camera and Regent Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona.
- Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb Project Scientist, Space Telescope Science Institute
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