Verification of James Webb telescopic instruments is almost complete before work can begin

But before that, we must complete the final verification of the four instruments that make up the observatory of the new generation. According to NASA, almost half of the procedure has already been completed.

These four state-of-the-art instruments will allow observation of the most distant and oldest galaxies that formed in the original universe just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, as well as analysis of their chemical composition. .

There are 17 observation modes among these instruments, and each mode must be tested before the telescope can begin its work.

“As a result of Webb’s progress? Read a post from NASA on Twitter, published Friday (17).” Good news: as of today, 7 of Webb’s 17 instrument states are ready for science. »

According to Jonathan Gardner, the project’s deputy chief investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, “Each state has a set of observations and analyzes to verify, and some of them will not be until after completion of commissioning.

A detailed ‘check’ list of observatory instrument modes is available on the ‘Where’s Webb’ page.

Gardner said that for each of the 17 conditions, the team selected a “representative example of a scientific goal” that will be observed during Webb’s first year of scientific operations, called Cycle 1 (the full list of Cycle 1 observations is available at this Homepage). ).

“These are just examples,” Gardner added. “Each mode will be used for many purposes, and most Webb science goals will be observed with more than one instrument and / or mode.”

The studies cover Webb’s most important scientific goals, which range from studying very ancient galaxies to studying planets, moons, asteroids and other objects in our solar system.

Experience the instruments of the James Webb Space Telescope

JWST carries the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) with four instruments:

NIRCam (near infrared camera): a camera capable of detecting light at wavelengths ranging from the limit of visible light (0.6 micrometers) to short infrared waves (5 micrometers).

NIRspec (near infrared spectrograph): a spectrometer capable of analyzing light at the same frequencies that NIRCam uses. Spectrographic analysis is used to determine the elements that make up an object, such as a galaxy or the atmosphere of an exoplanet.

MIRI (mid-infrared instrument): a combination camera and spectrometer that will analyze infrared light at medium and long lengths, between 5 and 27 micrometers.

FGS / NIRISS (Fine Guidance Sensor and Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph): which are actually two instruments. The first (FGS) is used to stabilize the telescope’s line of sight during observations. Its data is used to control the orientation of the spacecraft and the fine steering mirror used in the image stabilization mechanism. NIRISS (Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph) is a module for astronomical photography and spectroscopy that is capable of recording light in the frequency range 0.8 to 5 micrometers.

Both NIRCam and MIRI are equipped with corona graphs that are used to block direct light from a star so that light from its corona and nearby weaker objects can be studied.

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