NASA started a few days ago the alignment phase of the 18 segments of James Webb’s main mirror, a long and crucial step before the start-up of the space telescope still scheduled in about 3 months. Some instruments on board the JWST are already operational: thus, NASA was loudly pleased with the activation of the telescope’s infrared camera, the NIRCam, which was even able to detect its very first photons!
✨ Our NIRCam instrument’s detectors saw their 1st photons of starlight! Whileis not yet ready for science, this is the first of many steps to capture images that are at first unfocused, used to slowly fine-tune the optics: https://t.co/Sak6r7Ncex
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb)
“The detectors of our NIRCam instrument have seen their 1st starlight photons! Although #NASAWebb is not yet ready for science, this is the first of many steps needed to capture images that will initially be blurred, but used to slowly refine the optics”
The JWST’s infrared camera will support the observation procedure as soon as the segments of the mirror are finally all correctly aligned. Initially, and as NASA explains very well in its Twitter press release, the NIRCam will make it possible to capture “control” images which will be used to gradually refine the optics, a bit like focusing with its APN (a little…).