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Wakey wakey! Webb's instruments are on!

Fully deployed James Webb Space Telescope

Artist conception of the fully deployed James Webb Space Telescope. (Credit: NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez)

Now that Webb has reached its home orbit, 1.5 million kilometres away from Earth, the instruments have carefully been awoken. The telescope's four instruments and the Canadian Space Agency's (CSA's) Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) were turned on one by one. Functionality checks will be performed over the coming days.

The FGS will play a crucial role in the alignment of Webb's 18 golden hexagonal mirrors, as the Optical Telescope Element begins its critical fine-tuning in space.

The commissioning of the instruments, including the CSA's Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), is expected to start once mission teams have confirmed the successful completion of mirror alignment.

Over the course of the mission, the FGS will act as a stellar navigator, tracking bright stars to keep the telescope aligned, while NIRISS will be used to observe astronomical objects, such as exoplanets, brown dwarfs and rogue planets.

Launched , Webb will use infrared light to study the early universe and observe distant stars, exoplanet atmospheres, galaxy evolution, and much more. Canadian astronomers will be some of the first to use Webb's data and benefit from the tremendous science opportunities offered by this one-of-a-kind observatory.

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