Teams readying the James Webb Space Telescope for the beginning of its science operations have concluded that “the fine-tuning of the second of its four cutting-edge instruments ahead of the reveal of the telescope’s first science-grade images less than two weeks from now.”
The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) incorporates a camera that images the universe in mid-infrared wavelengths and a spectrograph that can seize the light spectra of the stars and galaxies. These spectra are practically the fingerprints of the way celestial objects absorb light, demonstrating their chemical composition.
MIRI performs in four modes, which allow the instrument to concentrate on different aspects of the studied objects. The engineering team finalized the testing of MIRI by testing its coronagraphic imaging mode, which enables the astronomers to mask the bulk of a star and see only the surrounding light of the stellar atmosphere, the corona. In the corona, the James Webb Space Telescope can see exoplanets circling those distant stars.
“We are thrilled that MIRI is now a functioning, state-of-the-art instrument with performances across all its capabilities better than expected,” Gillian Wright, MIRI European principal investigator at the U.K. Astronomy Technology Center, that co-developed the instrument, announced in a statement.