Apparently the James Webb Space Telescope Took a Selfie

That's a bigger deal than it seems

James Webb Space Telescope
Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope onboard.
Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images

Even before it was launched into space, the James Webb Space Telescope has been compared to the Hubble Space Telescope, its predecessor in recording images of deep space. Many articles comparing the two have focused on the technology each telescope uses, their positions relative to the Earth and the resolutions of the images each takes.

There’s another way to differentiate between the two of them, however: the James Webb Space Telescope is the one that just took a selfie. has an inside look at how the selfie was taken — and what it means about the Webb’s capabilities. The image was taken using a specific lens within the near-infrared camera, also known as the NIRCam. And while the instrument had been tested numerous times before launch, this was the first time NASA saw what it looked like when illuminated by stars.

The principal investigator for NIRCam, Marcia Rieke, was excited by the results of this test, of which the selfie was only one part. “The entire Webb team is ecstatic at how well the first steps of taking images and aligning the telescope are proceeding,” Rieke said. “We were so happy to see that light makes its way into NIRCam.”

NASA has a longer explanation of what the initial testing revealed — and how that work will help us gain a better understanding of the universe. This may well be the biggest flex involving a selfie, ever.

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