The James Webb Space Telescope continues to get people talking. This time it took aim at a planetary giant. Thanks to it, we have Jupiter seen as never before. It can be observed in great detail along with its satellites.
On July 12, the James Webb Telescope team made the first presentation. It was a handful of incredibly detailed photographs of the deep and distant universe. Now the team released some tantalizing pictures of Jupiter. The capability of the $10 billion telescope is incredible. It will study near-Earth objects in detail never before seen.
“It complements the deep space images released the other day. These images of Jupiter demonstrate the full scope of what Webb can observe. Not just the faintest and most distant galaxies. Also the planets in our own cosmic backyard. Those you can see with the naked eye from your own backyard.” So said Bryan Holler, a scientist at Baltimore’s Telescope Space Research Institute, in a statement. He helped plan the Jupiter observations.
The new telescope launched into space on December 25, 2021. It will observe the past of the universe, studying the first stars and galaxies that formed. But the infrared observatory is a highly capable multipurpose tool. Astronomers will use it to investigate a huge variety of cosmic objects and phenomena. Jupiter seen as never before is part of these investigations.
These photos are quite detailed and capture the giant planet’s cloud bands. Also, its famous Great Red Spot and even some of its faint rings. Several satellites, including Europa, are also visible in the images.
“I couldn’t believe we saw everything so clearly. The satellites are so bright,” said Stefanie Milam. She is Webb’s deputy project scientist for planetary science.
“It’s exciting to think about observing these kinds of objects in our solar system.” The Webb team also observed several asteroids during commissioning. The telescope’s ability to study fast-moving targets was tested. Webb passed these tests with flying colors.