Webb - world's most powerful telescope completes first test to track moving object in deep space
The James Webb Space Telescope, the world's largest and most powerful space-based observatory, recently completed the first test to track a moving object, which verified that the telescope could conduct moving target science.
Commenting on this development, Heidi Hammel, Webb interdisciplinary scientist for solar system observations, said, "The Webb team has already used an asteroid within our solar system to run engineering tests of the 'moving target' (MT) capability. The engineering team tested this capability on a small asteroid in the Main Belt: 6481 Tenzing, named after Tenzing Norgay, the famous Tibetan mountain guide who was one of the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest. "
"Since the objects were all virtually identical otherwise, picking the one with a name linked to success seemed like a no-brainer," she added.
Webb is currently moving through the final phases of commissioning its science instruments and as it proceeds through this phase, the mission team will test other objects moving at various speeds to verify we can study objects with the telescope that move throughout the solar system, NASA said in a statement on Thursday.
Tracking a package? So did Webb! 📦To prepare for upcoming solar system observations, Webb successfully completed its first test to track a moving object! Learn more about how Webb will explore the solar system to #UnfoldTheUniverse: https://t.co/ElP0vNOG5q📸: @NASAHubble pic.twitter.com/AS81qbiuGe— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) May 19, 2022
Led by NASA, the Webb mission was launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana on December 25, 2021. The space-based observatory will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it.
While moving through space, the James Webb Space Telescope will constantly find distant stars and galaxies and point at them with extreme precision to acquire images and spectra. The Webb team also plans to observe planets and their satellites, asteroids, and comets in our solar system, which move across the background stars of our galaxy. The recent test was conducted to verify the observatory's capabilities to track these objects with sufficient precision to obtain images and spectra.