Press Release

NASA to Discuss Progress as Webb Telescope’s Mirrors Align

By SpaceRef Editor
March 14, 2022
Filed under , ,

NASA will hold a virtual media briefing at noon EDT Wednesday, March 16, to provide an update on the James Webb Space Telescope’s mirror alignment. The briefing will air live on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Participants will share progress made in aligning Webb’s mirrors, resulting in a fully focused image of a single star. NASA will make imagery demonstrating the completion of this milestone available on the agency’s website at 11:30 a.m., prior to the briefing.

Briefing participants include:

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington

Lee Feinberg, Webb optical telescope element manager, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland

Marshall Perrin, Webb deputy telescope scientist, Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore

Jane Rigby, Webb operations project scientist, Goddard

Erin Wolf, Webb program manager, Ball Aerospace in Broomfield, Colorado

To ask questions during the briefing, media must RSVP no later than two hours before the start of the event to Laura Betz at: laura.e.betz@nasa.gov. Media and members of the public may also ask questions on social media using #UnfoldtheUniverse.

NASA’s media accreditation policy is available online.

In recent weeks, the Webb team successfully captured starlight through each of Webb’s 18 mirror segments. The team then refined and stacked those 18 individual dots of light on top of one another to form an initial alignment image of a single star. Since then, in stages of alignment called “coarse phasing” and “fine phasing,” engineers have made smaller adjustments to the positions of Webb’s 18 primary mirror segments so they act as a single mirror, producing a sharp and focused image of a single star.

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 process of preparing for science operations. The Webb team will release the telescope’s first science images and data this summer after completing telescope alignment and preparing the instruments.

Webb will explore every phase of cosmic history – from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe, and everything in between. Webb will reveal new and unexpected discoveries and help humanity understand the origins of the universe and our place in it.

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

For more information about the Webb mission, visit:

https://webb.nasa.gov

SpaceRef staff editor.