James Webb Space Telescope is fully aligned, focused and ready for instrument commissioning

The James Webb Space Telescope is fully aligned. After a full review, NASA has announced that the JWST team has completed the seventh and final stage of telescope alignment. Following completion, the team held a series of key decision meetings and unanimously agreed that Webb’s ready to enter the final series of preparations, science instrument commissioning, ahead of full scientific operations.

The image below shows the alignment of the JWST across all of Webb’s instruments, including NIRSPEC, NIRCAM, MIRI, the Fine Guidance Sensor and NIRISS. The images show a marked change from when Webb detected its first photons in February. At that time, only the onboard NIRCAM, one of four cameras on Webb, was switched on and its image was unfocused. The team has made significant strides in just over two months.

‘Engineering images of sharply focused stars in the field of view of each instrument demonstrate that the telescope is fully aligned and in focus. For this test, Webb pointed at part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, providing a dense field of hundreds of thousands of stars across all the observatory’s sensors. The sizes and positions of the images shown here depict the relative arrangement of each of Webb’s instruments in the telescope’s focal plane, each pointing at a slightly offset part of the sky relative to one another. Webb’s three imaging instruments are NIRCam (images shown here at a wavelength of 2 microns), NIRISS (image shown here at 1.5 microns), and MIRI (shown at 7.7 microns, a longer wavelength revealing emission from interstellar clouds as well as starlight). NIRSpec is a spectrograph rather than imager but can take images, such as the 1.1 micron image shown here, for calibrations and target acquisition. The dark regions visible in …