The World Wide Webb

The Webb telescope in my opinion has been the most ambitious and important project NASA has ever ventured. Despite delays and cost increases, it has been finally successful, wildly successful, in fact. Because of its long journey the telescope’s component parts— indeed features of a telescope—had to be folded to fit together during its long journey. There were around a 100 critical points where things could have gone wrong. Lots of nail biting for NASA scientists. There were a few minor hiccups, but overall it was a smooth and well-executed trip.

Once settled, the engineers and scientists themselves could settle into what the Webb would reveal about outer space. The views well surpassed expectations as the pictures above depict in particular the amount of detail about Jupiter including its rings, tiny satellites, and even galaxies in one image. However, it’s not a matter of a robot pushing camera buttons. The infrared images had to be translated into photos for the human eye. A specialist in image processing accomplished the task. Despite not being an astronomer, she was fascinated with processing images from our skies.   By the way, the white spot is a perpetual storm so big it could swallow Earth. 

Not only is the quality of what scientists are seeing better than expected, they are not fitting the expected models. Instead of small galaxies with no particular structures, they are discovering large, bright, well shaped galaxies. Now scientists have the task of explaining the difference. One difference is the older age of the galaxies. Perhaps it’s a matter of underestimating the beauty and wisdom of old age.

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