Home NASA scientist on Webb images: ‘There’s something out there that we’ve never imagined’

NASA scientist on Webb images: ‘There’s something out there that we’ve never imagined’

James Webb telescope NASA
Image courtesy NASA

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope looks to solve mysteries in our solar system – and this week, we saw our first images that demonstrate the power capabilities of the Webb mission.

President Joe Biden released the first full-color image from the telescope Monday during an event at the White House in Washington, D.C.

“These images are going to remind the world that America can do big things, and remind the American people – especially our children – that there’s nothing beyond our capacity,” said President Biden in remarks during the event. “We can see possibilities no one has ever seen before. We can go places no one has ever gone before.”

The image reveals thousands of galaxies.

“Webb’s first deep field is not only the first full-color image from the James Webb Space Telescope, it’s the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe, so far. This image covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length. It’s just a tiny sliver of the vast universe,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a news release. “This mission was made possible by human ingenuity – the incredible NASA Webb team and our international partners at the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. Webb is just the start of what we can accomplish in the future when we work together for the benefit of humanity.”

The Webb telescope has capabilities well beyond Hubble, and NASA scientists expect to make new discoveries with the data.

“What happened after the big bang? How did the expanding universe cool down and make black holes and galaxies and stars and planets and people? Astronomers see everything twice: first with pictures, and then with imagination and calculation,” said John Mather, Webb senior project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “But there’s something out there that we’ve never imagined, and I will be as amazed as you are when we find it.”

The James Webb Space Telescope launched Dec. 25, 2021, on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, South America. After completing a complex deployment sequence in space, Webb underwent months of commissioning where its mirrors were aligned, and its instruments were prepared for science, according to the news release.

A full set of the telescope’s first full-color images and spectroscopic data were released Tuesday and are available at https://www.nasa.gov/webbfirstimages

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.