NASA recently revealed the first high-resolution color images of the most powerful space observatory ever built, the James Webb Space Telescope. And, looking further into deep space than ever before, they did not disappoint.
A week after that much-anticipated unveiling, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), which along with the European Space Agency (ESA) is also part of the Webb telescope team, has released an impressive video (below) that uses some magic from video and images of Webb to traverse space, taking us to the South Ring Nebula. which is 2,000 light years from Earth.
WOW! 🤩 This video zooms through space to reveal @nasawebb‘s image of the Southern Ring Nebula, 2000 light-years from Earth. Canada’s Fine Guidance Sensor allowed the telescope to point at and focus on its target.
Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, and the Webb ERO Production Team pic.twitter.com/my5vbAjD80
— Canadian Space Agency (@csa_asc) July 21, 2022
The South Ring Nebula (below) is a thing of stunning beauty, its appearance the result of a dying star shedding layers of dust and gas.
Part of the Webb Observatory configuration, CSA’s Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) allows the telescope to point and focus on its many targets.
“To take full advantage of the incredible capabilities of the Webb Telescope, it was vital to design and build the most accurate guidance sensor on any space telescope to date,” CSA says on its website.
He explains that to allow Webb to bring specific celestial bodies within range, the FGS sends relevant data to the observatory’s Attitude Control Subsystem, which uses the information to point the telescope at the object of interest.
“To ensure that Webb remains locked on its target, the FGS measures the exact position of a guide star in its field of view and sends adjustments to the telescope’s optical system 16 times per second,” CSA said.
The FGS is phenomenally accurate. In fact, CSA says the sensor is so sensitive that it can detect “a small angular displacement equivalent to the thickness of a human hair seen from a kilometer away.” To give you some context, “that’s like watching someone blink in Toronto, all the way from Montreal.”
The James Webb Space Telescope is now operating a million miles from Earth. The $10 billion mission, which has been years in the making, aims to discover more about the origins of the universe while also searching for distant planets that might harbor life. With its mission only beginning in earnest in the past few weeks, there is much to look forward to as the telescope is expected to make a number of groundbreaking discoveries in the years to come.