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IPFS News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

What will the James Webb Space Telescope look at first?

• By Elizabeth Howell

As the James Webb Space Telescope begins the lengthy process of aligning its 18 primary mirror segments, a question burns in the astronomical community: What will the huge observatory look at first?

Webb soared into space successfully on Dec. 25 and successfully completed its major deployments about two weeks later while speeding toward its ultimate destination: the Earth-sun Lagrange Point 2 (L2), a gravitationally stable spot in space about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) away from our planet.

The telescope includes 18 hexagonal mirror segments that need to be gradually aligned into a single, nearly perfect light-collecting surface. A necessary part of that process is taking images of the sky to see how well the alignment is proceeding, but Jane Rigby, Webb operations project scientist, warned everyone not to expect much from the "first light" of Webb.