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NASA releases new images from Jupiter’s James Webb Space Telescope

Humanity can now better see the largest planet in our celestial neighborhood, our solar system.

NASA’s recently commissioned space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope, continues to make history by photographing many of the cosmic bodies we know and want to know more about; he even took a picture of Jupiter and its moon, Europa.

NASA’s newest space telescope recently received its order, with NASA celebrating the milestone by releasing the first images the space telescope took when it became an ordered space telescope.

(Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, and B. Holler and J. Stansberry (STScI))
Jupiter, center, and its moon Europa, left, are seen through the 2.12-micron filter of the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam instrument.

Details of the James Webb Space Telescope image of Jupiter

NASA mentioned in a blog post that the photos of Jupiter and Europa were taken using the 2.12 micron filter of the NIRCAM instrument of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or Webb).

Through the space telescope instrument, we can clearly see the distinct bands of the gas giant encircling it and its Great Red Spot, a storm larger than Earth.

Contrary to the name, Webb’s image of the Great Red Spot appears white due to the process the image has undergone.

On the other hand, Jupiter’s moon Europa is clearly visible to the left of the gas giant.

Jupiter Micron Filter Side-by-Side Comparison

(Photo: NASA, ESA, CSA, and B. Holler and J. Stansberry (STScI))
Left: Jupiter, center, and its moons Europa, Thebe, and Metis are seen through the 2.12-micron filter of the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam instrument. Right: Jupiter and Europa, Thebes and Metis are seen through NIRCam’s 3.23 micron filter.

However, this is not the only Webb moon of Jupiter captured on film. Using NIRCam’s 3.23 micron filter and its 2.12 micron filter, Webb was also able to capture Thebe and Metis, moons that could not be seen clearly with this latter filter.

Besides Jupiter’s moons, Webb was also able to capture some of the planet’s rings on film, which stood out in the telescope’s NIRCam long-wavelength filter image.

Read more: #ToyTech: The Nerf story: how did it get from the Nerf ball to the brand it is today?

Stefanie Milam, Webb Project Assistant Scientist for Planetary Science based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, mentioned she was stunned when Webb was able to take a picture of Jupiter’s rings, describing the feat as “absolutely amazing and incredible”.

Bryan Holler, a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, said that when Webb’s deep-field images were released the other day and his photos of Jupiter were combined, the result would demonstrate the full capabilities of what Webb can observe.

Holler is also one of the experts who helped plan the shot of Jupiter using Webb’s instruments.

John Stansberry, observatory scientist and NIRCam commissioning manager at the Space Telescope Science Institute, said the images of Jupiter were designed to provide “beautiful images” of the planet’s entire disk. However, the wealth of additional information about very faint objects, such as the planet’s rings, Metis and Thebes, was “absolutely a very pleasant surprise” for a photo taken with exposures of around one minute.

Keep in mind that Webb is able to take pictures of this quality despite being hit by a micrometeoroid in late May, specifically the C3 segment of Webb’s primary mirror.

What’s next for Webb?

NASA plans to use Webb’s infrared instruments to properly observe and take pictures of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, named Sagitarrius A*.

He also plans to use space telescope instruments to study exoplanets.

What’s more, it could also be used to study fast-moving objects in space, such as asteroids, which it did when taking pictures of Jupiter and its moons, per Space.com.

Related article: The James Webb Space Telescope takes its first picture of the Carina Nebula, South Ring Nebula