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First images from the James Webb Space Telescope coming soon

Artist conception of the James Webb Space Telescope

Artist conception of the James Webb Space Telescope. (Credit: NASA)

The James Webb Space Telescope will release its first full-colour images and spectroscopic data on . The official release of images and data will showcase Webb's full science capabilities.

Deciding what Webb should look at first has been a project more than five years in the making, undertaken by an international partnership between NASA, ESA (European Space Agency), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, home to Webb's science and mission operations.

Once each of Webb's instruments, including CSA's Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), has been calibrated, tested, and given the green light by its science and engineering teams, the first images and spectroscopic observations will be made. These experts will proceed through a list of targets and then the production team will receive the data from Webb's instrument scientists and process it into images for astronomers and the public.

In addition to imagery, Webb will be capturing spectroscopic data – detailed information astronomers can read in light. The first images package of materials will highlight the science themes that inspired the mission and will be the focus of its work: the early universe, the evolution of galaxies through time, the lifecycle of stars, and other worlds. All of Webb's commissioning data – the data taken while aligning the telescope and preparing the instruments – will also be made publicly available.

After capturing its first images, Webb's scientific observations will begin. Canadian scientists will be some of the first to use the James Webb Space Telescope to make new discoveries about the universe. 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. These observations will mark the official beginning of Webb's general science operations.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world's premier space science observatory. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA and the CSA.

Abridged text is reprinted courtesy of NASA

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