The James Webb Space Telescope has long been hailed as a cosmic pioneer that will visit the deepest corners of space. As it turns out, that description from officials is quite literal. Wednesday, NASA confirmed the first images from the telescope will be the "deepest images" ever captured of the universe.
"The images are being taken right now," NASA official Thomas Zurbuchen said during a press conference on Wednesday. "There is already some amazing science in the can, and some others are yet to be taken as we go forward. We are in the middle of getting the history-making data down."
The official added he was moved to tears when he saw some of the first images being returned from the project.
"It's really hard to not look at the universe in a new light and not just have a moment that is deeply personal," he added. "It's an emotional moment when you see nature suddenly releasing some of its secrets. and I would like you to imagine and look forward to that."
NASA administrator Bill Nelson was also on the call, confirming the Webb Telescope images show parts of the universe previously unseen by researchers and astronomers, let alone members of the general public.
"If you think about that, this is farther than humanity has ever moved before," Nelson said. "And we're only beginning to understand what Webb can and will do. It's going to explore objects in the solar system and atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting other stars, giving us clues as to whether potentially their atmospheres are similar to our own."
The Webb Telescope cost NASA and the European Space Agency around $10 billion to build and deploy. Current NASA estimations suggest the telescope will be operational for at least the next 10 years.
"Our goals for Webb's first images and data are both to showcase the telescope's powerful instruments and to preview the science mission to come," astronomer Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist at STScI, previously said of the images. "They are sure to deliver a long-awaited 'wow' for astronomers and the public."0comments