CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – President Joe Biden and NASA will release the long awaited first set of full color and spectroscopic science images taken by the massive new international James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in a pair of ceremonies at the White House and NASA on Monday and Tuesday, July 11 & 12.
“Monday, July 11, President Joe Biden will release one of Webb’s first images in a preview event at the White House in Washington. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson will provide remarks.”
In fact the very first image release was moved up a day to Monday with President Biden live from the White House at 5 p.m. ET – “because we can’t contain the excitement.”
While the remaining four images from a set of five will be released to the public from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, live on Tuesday morning, July 12, via NASA TV, NASA announced Sunday, July 10.
“We can’t contain the excitement for @NASAWebb’s first full-color images!
On Monday, July 11 at 5pm ET (21:00 UTC), President Biden will unveil one of the space telescope’s first images of deep space as a preview of what’s ahead: https://go.nasa.gov/3NUQ8Dx,” NASA tweeted
We can't contain the excitement for @NASAWebb's first full-color images!
On Monday, July 11 at 5pm ET (21:00 UTC), President Biden will unveil one of the space telescope's first images of deep space as a preview of what's ahead: https://t.co/kP5JdQEpVz pic.twitter.com/1wFZGkqrx8
— NASA (@NASA) July 11, 2022
“Released one by one, these first images from the world’s largest and most powerful space telescope will demonstrate Webb at its full power as it begins its mission to unfold the infrared universe.”
This first JWST science image release is the culmination of an arduous two-decade long development, million-mile journey since launching on Christmas Day, and half year spacecraft and science instrument commissioning phase and finally arriving at its final orbital destination at the L2 Lagrange Point on 24 Jan. 2022, sliding gently into its new home a million miles from earth – after a minor course correction thruster firing.
Having achieved that long awaited and much prized success of arriving at L2 the Webb team next worked on focusing and aligning the 18 segmented and 21-foot (6.5 m) wide gold-coated primary mirror at the heart of the $10 Billion observatory which is an international collaboration of NASA, ESA and CSA.
Here is a Webb test image:
Below is the NASA list of cosmic objects that Webb targeted for these first observations.
Following Monday’s release by President Biden the remainder will be released in NASA’s live broadcast beginning at 10:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, July 12.
“Each image will simultaneously be made available on social media as well as on the agency’s website,” said NASA.
🗓️ Mark your calendars for Tuesday, July 12 at 10:30am ET (14:30 UTC) as we release the first images from @NASAWebb.
— NASA (@NASA) July 1, 2022
“These listed targets below represent the first wave of full-color scientific images and spectra the observatory has gathered, and the official beginning of Webb’s general science operations. They were selected by an international committee of representatives from NASA, ESA, CSA, and the Space Telescope Science Institute.”
- Carina Nebula: The Carina Nebula is one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky, located approximately 7,600 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. Nebulae are stellar nurseries where stars form. The Carina Nebula is home to many massive stars, several times larger than the Sun.
- WASP-96 b (spectrum): WASP-96 b is a giant planet outside our solar system, composed mainly of gas. The planet, located nearly 1,150 light-years from Earth, orbits its star every 3.4 days. It has about half the mass of Jupiter, and its discovery was announced in 2014.
- Southern Ring Nebula: The Southern Ring, or “Eight-Burst” nebula, is a planetary nebula – an expanding cloud of gas, surrounding a dying star. It is nearly half a light-year in diameter and is located approximately 2,000 light years away from Earth.
- Stephan’s Quintet: About 290 million light-years away, Stephan’s Quintet is located in the constellation Pegasus. It is notable for being the first compact galaxy group ever discovered in 1877. Four of the five galaxies within the quintet are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters.
- SMACS 0723: Massive foreground galaxy clusters magnify and distort the light of objects behind them, permitting a deep field view into both the extremely distant and intrinsically faint galaxy populations.
The release of these first images marks the official beginning of Webb’s science operations, which will continue to explore the mission’s key science themes.
Teams have already applied through a competitive process for time to use the telescope, in what astronomers call its first “cycle,” or first year of observations, according to NASA officials.
“As we near the end of preparing the observatory for science, we are on the precipice of an incredibly exciting period of discovery about our universe. The release of Webb’s first full-color images will offer a unique moment for us all to stop and marvel at a view humanity has never seen before,” said Eric Smith, Webb program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in a statement.
“These images will be the culmination of decades of dedication, talent, and dreams – but they will also be just the beginning.”
For the past 5 years an international team has been deciding what Webb should look at first in a partnership between NASA, ESA, CSA, and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, home to Webb’s science and mission operations.
“Our goals for Webb’s first images and data are both to showcase the telescope’s powerful instruments and to preview the science mission to come,” said astronomer Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist at STScI. “They are sure to deliver a long-awaited ‘wow’ for astronomers and the public.”
Once each of Webb’s instruments has been calibrated, tested, and given the green light by its science and engineering teams, the first images and spectroscopic observations will be made. The team will proceed through a list of targets that have been preselected and prioritized by an international committee to exercise Webb’s powerful capabilities. Then the production team will receive the data from Webb’s instrument scientists and process it into images for astronomers and the public.
“I feel very privileged to be a part of it,” said Alyssa Pagan, a science visuals developer at STScI. “Typically, the process from raw telescope data to final, clean image that communicates scientific information about the universe can take anywhere from weeks to a month,” Pagan said.
Webb is a robotic mission and will function as a cosmic time machine peering back to nearly the beginning of time to see first light and explore the formation of the first stars and galaxies in our Universe in infrared light.
I observed JWST many times while under construction at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, MD, to observe assembly of the primary and secondary mirrors onto the observatory backbone structure at various points
The giant school bus sized and nearly 6.8-ton (6.2-metric ton) infrared observatory has huge ambitions – despite being billions over budget and years behind schedule and faced down cancellation from short-sighted budget cutters in Congress.
It seeks to ask and answer the big questions – Who we are? How did we come to be? by looking back to the birth of the Universe
The $9.8 Billion Webb observatory – intricately folded up like origami inside the nose cone – launched at 7:20 a.m. EST (9:20 a.m. GFT / 1220 GMT / 13:20 CET). Saturday, Dec. 25, on a 55 m (180 ft) tall Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s jungle Spaceport at the ELA-3 launch complex in Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America.
Webb is a joint effort between NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).
JWST is the largest, most powerful and most complex space telescope ever built.
It is also the most expensive science instrument ever costing nearly $10 Billion
It will operate in a halo orbit at the L2 Lagrange point approx. 1 million miles (1.6 million km) from Earth after liftoff and about a 1-month journey.
It will serve as the scientific successor to NASA’s world famous and phenomenally successful Hubble Space Telescope (HST).
“The James Webb Space Telescope represents the ambition that NASA and our partners maintain to propel us forward into the future,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
“The promise of Webb is not what we know we will discover; it’s what we don’t yet understand or can’t yet fathom about our universe. I can’t wait to see what it uncovers!”
Webb is in many respects a time machine looking back to the formation of the Universe over 13.5 Billion years ago and how we came to be and evolve over the eons.
Watch Ken’s BBC World TV interview about Webb achieving final orbit and the goals ahead on Jan 24, 2022.
Video Caption: Dr. Ken Kremer of Space UpClose live interview on BBC World News TV on Jan. 24, 2022 ET (Jan. 25 GMT) about NASA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) just hours after achieving orbit at its final destination, why at L2, what’s ahead with spacecraft checkouts, what are the science goals and when are first pictures expected
Watch Ken’s commentary about Project Artemis, Capstone, NASA SLS WDR demo test, SpaceX missions including NASA Crew-3 and Crew 4, AX-1, Nilesat 301, Transporter-5, Starlink, Boeing Starliner, and NASA TROPICS 1.
Jul 6/7: Fox 35 Orlando featured my commentary about NASA Capstone cubesat mission – communications just reestablished after 2 day loss. Capstone is a pathfinder mission for NASA’s Gateway mini lunar space station. Now preparing for 1st trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) and heading to lunar orbit
Jul 5/6: WKMG CBS 6 Orlando News featured my commentary about todays loss of contact with NASA’s CAPSTONE lunar cubesat mission. CAPSTONE had been healthy until a 2nd comm pass. Team is attempting to reestablish contact. Goal: test the stability of the unique orbit planned for NASA Gateway mini human space station:
Jul 5/6: WFTV ABC Orlando News featured my commentary about today’s loss of contact with NASA Capstone cubesat mission which is a pathfinder test for the Gateway mini human lunar space station
Jun 21/22: WFTV ABC Orlando News featured my commentary about NASA’s 4th SLS WDR fueling attempt Jun 20, the results and whats ahead after NASA conducts detailed analysis of the 1st tanking test to completely load both stages with LOX & LH2 and run the terminal count to T-29 sec despite a hydrogen leak – achieving many but not all objectives
Jun 17: Fox 35 Orlando featured my commentary about the selection of 2 NASA astronauts to fly on the 1st crewed mission of Boeing Starliner capsule on CFT test flight late 2022 – and what it means for human spaceflight to have a 2nd US commercial crew provider following the successful Boeing Starliner OFT-2 mission for NASA
Jun 9/10: WFTV ABC Orlando features my commentary about the upcoming NASA TROPICS 1 & 2 cubesat science launch on an Astra Rocket 3.3 from pad 46 for NASA which will study the formation and evolution of Tropical Cyclones and Hurricanes. Two more launches will follow for 6 TROPICS cubesats altogether over next few months
Jun 8: WFTV ABC Orlando features my commentary about the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch of NileSat301 telecom sat for Egypt
June 6/7: WFTV ABC Orlando features my commentary about completing 2nd rollout to pad 39B for 2nd round WDR tanking test, what’s involved in and why its critical to the future of Project Artemis:
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX missions Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, SpaceX Axiom-1, JWST, IXPE, DART, Lucy Asteroid mission, GOES, SpaceX Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3 & 4, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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