NASA announced that the James Webb Space Telescope has completed its mirror alignment and focusing process and is ready to move into the instrument calibration ahead of full science operations later this year. Each instrument has a number of specialized detectors with custom equipment. “Every step of the way, things have been going either exactly as planned or better than planned, which has just been an incredibly great feeling,” said Charlie Atkinson, Chief Engineer for Northrop Grumman’s JWST Program, regarding the status of the telescope. „[It was] better than planned”, he added. “We’re getting an indication that the actual optical performance of the telescope is actually better than we expected,” was a conclusion.
For the test, Webb observed a small neighboring satellite galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud. “The telescope will be commanded to point to different areas in the sky, where the total amount of solar radiation hitting the observatory will vary to confirm thermal stability when changing targets,” NASA officials said of the calibration. Webb will be able to peer inside the atmospheres of exoplanets and observe some of the first galaxies created after the universe began working through infrared light. The first high-resolution images Webb collects of the cosmos aren’t expected until the end of June, with the instruments calibrated. The $10 billion telescope launched on Dec. 25, 2021.