How To Track The James Webb Space Telescope’s Progress To Scientific Operations

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The James Webb Space Telescope team is nearly halfway through commissioning the observatory’s four science instruments, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said Friday.

There are seventeen instrument “modes” for the team to prepare before the game-changing telescope begins scientific operations next month. This week, five modes were checked off, with 10 more to go.

Is the anticipation for science eating at you, or do you want to know more about the commissioning process? NASA’s “Where Is Webb?” tracker might scratch that itch. It allows us to follow along as the Webb team checks the modes off one by one.

Keeping up with Webb’s progress?

Good news: As of today, 7 out of Webb’s 17 instrument modes are ready for science! Dive into a technical explainer on one of the 10 remaining modes from experts on Webb's MIRI instrument:

— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) June 17, 2022

Webb will be able to peer inside the atmospheres of exoplanets and observe some of the first galaxies created after the universe began by observing them through infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye, NASA says.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore is the mission operations center for the telescope. It launched last December from French Guiana.

The observatory stands about three stories tall, weighs six metric tons, and the sun shield alone is the size of a tennis court. It was built largely in Greenbelt, Md., at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

Webb’s first images of the universe — called the early release observations, or EROs — are expected to come out in mid-July.