Nasa releases the first Webb Telescope images of Jupiter

Nasa has released the first James Webb space telescope images from our own solar system, which captures the gas giant Jupiter, which glows in infrared light.

Also visible are Jupiter’s moons Europe, Thebes and Metis.

The images posted Thursday night on a Nasa blog are not as highly edited as the five images of distant galaxies and nebulae that the space agency shared with the public on Tuesday.

Instead, the Jovian images come from data collected during Web’s commissioning phase this spring, with operators pointing the telescope at various objects to ensure everything was working properly.

Jupiter seen in near-infrared light by the James Webb Space Telescope. The Jovian moon Europe is seen on the left

(NASA, ESA, CSA and B Holler and J Stansberry (STScI))

Nevertheless, the images provide an indication of the wide range of science that Webb can pursue by studying not only distant galaxies but planets in our own cosmic backyard. And despite coming before official scientific observations of Jupiter, scientists said the picture is striking in its clarity and resolution.

“I could not believe we saw everything so clearly and how bright they were,” Stefanie Milam, Webb’s deputy project scientist for planetary science at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement. “It’s really exciting to think about the ability and opportunity we have to observe those kinds of objects in our solar system.”

Data from Web’s commissioning phase, as well as the data underlying the stunning first images shared with the public on Tuesday, are now being published in the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes for further investigation.

But scientists will not have to wait long before Web’s first cycle of official scientific observations begins this summer, a program that will include observations of Jupiter, Uranus, asteroids and Mars, as well as the most distant galaxies in the Cosmos.

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