After giving a closer look at the distant universe, NASA has released images of Jupiter, its moons and asteroids taken from the James Webb Space Telescope. In an official statement, NASA said that the new data includes images of Jupiter and images and spectra of several asteroids. The images give a clearer look at Jupiter and its moons, including Europa.
The image by the Webb Space Telescope shows the distinct bands or rings around the planet as well as the Great Red Spot on the giant planet. This is a storm on Jupiter, which is big enough to swallow Earth, according to NASA. The images are taken using the NIRCam instrument on the Webb Space telescope.
Keep in mind that the image of the Great Red Spot appears white in the image because of the way the infrared image was processed. Jupiter’s Europa moon along with the Thebe and Metis are also seen in another set of photos. The Europa moon is also the target of NASA’s forthcoming Europa Clipper mission.
As NASA notes in its blog post, these images are “proof that Webb can observe the satellites and rings near bright solar system objects such as Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.” The agency notes that the telescope “easily captured some of Jupiter’s rings.” Scientists will also use the Webb to see if it is possible to see the material spewing out of Jupiter’s Europa moon and Saturn’s moon Enceladus, adds the post.
“Combined with the deep field images released the other day, these images of Jupiter demonstrate the full grasp of what Webb can observe, from the faintest, most distant observable galaxies to planets in our own cosmic backyard that you can see with the naked eye from your actual backyard,” said Bryan Holler, a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, who helped plan these observations said in a statement.
The images also one of an asteroid called 6481 Tenzing. The idea was to see whether Webb could track a fast moving object such as a comet or asteroid. This particular asteroid is located asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. According to NASA, while the telescope was designed to track slower moving objects such as planets like Mars, during commissioning, it was able to get observations of asteroids “as a dot because they were all small.”
According to NASA, the “Webb will still get valuable data with all of the science instruments for objects moving up to 67 milliarcseconds per second, which is more than twice the expected baseline.”