NIRISS, one of Webb's primary instruments is now fully ready to see the universe
- United States
The Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph instrument (NIRISS), one of the James Webb Space Telescope's four primary scientific instruments has completed its postlaunch preparations and is now ready to observe the universe.
Each of Webb's four instruments is designed to study a wide range of objects and phenomena in the cosmos, including planets, stars, galaxies, gas clouds, debris disks, black holes, and dark matter. NIRISS will provide near-infrared imaging and spectroscopic capabilities. As the only instrument capable of aperture mask interferometry, it has the unique ability to capture images of bright objects at a resolution greater than the other imagers.
The last NIRISS mode to be checked off before the instrument was declared ready to begin scientific operations was the Single Object Slitless Spectroscopy (SOSS) capability. With SOSS mode, the NIRISS instrument will be able to study the atmospheres of exoplanets - planets beyond our solar system - as they pass in front of their star using a technique called transit spectroscopy.
According to NASA, the heart of the SOSS mode is a specialized prism assembly that disperses the light of a cosmic source to create three distinctive spectra (rainbows), revealing the hues of more than 2,000 infrared colors collected simultaneously in a single observation.
Below is the test detector image from the NIRISS instrument operated in SOSS mode while pointing at a bright star. In this image, each color corresponds to a specific infrared wavelength between 0.6 and 2.8 microns.
Image Credit: NASA, CSA, and NIRISS team/Loic Albert, University of Montreal
The first of our 4 Webb instruments is fully ready for science! NIRISS, built by @csa_asc, is a camera and a spectrograph capable of analyzing exoplanet atmospheres: https://t.co/IdWPKo9gIEWhat does this test data from NIRISS (the red/green/blue lines) show? ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/atEyhVHhKT— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) June 27, 2022
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is the world's largest and most powerful telescope ever built. 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.
On July 12, 2022, Webb's first full-color images and spectroscopic data will be released.