The James Webb Space Telescope is already operating at full capacity 1 million miles from Earth
The James Webb Space Telescope is already operating at full capacity 1.5 million kilometers from Earth (at the L2 Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system). Today, in July 2022, the JWST team has published the first scientific images – that is, not used for calibration – obtained by the observatory's instruments.
The event had been carefully planned between the space agencies involved —NASA, ESA and CSA— to present to the world the enormous potential of James Webb, but at the last minute the White House decided to go ahead and made public one day before one of the five images that they were going to be distributed. After all, NASA, and by extension, the United States, contributes the majority of the JWST budget — Europe participates with 15% and Canada with less than 5% — so it had to be made clear who is leading this ambitious project.
On the other hand, it is true that it is not at all common to see an entire US president presenting an astronomical image. The image of the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 and its associated gravitational lensing is now history and will be remembered as the 'first James Webb image'.
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