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Feb. 10, 2022

Media Advisory: UArizona astronomer to participate in NASA Webb Telescope teleconference on mirror alignment and early imagery

  • What: UArizona astronomer Marcia Rieke will participate in a NASA media teleconference on the James Webb Space Telescope's mirror alignment and early images.
  • When: Friday, Feb. 11, 9 a.m. (MST)
  • Where: Audio of the teleconference will stream live on NASA's website.
  • RSVP: To ask questions during the teleconference, media must RSVP no later than two hours prior to the event to Alise Fisher at:

NASA will host a media teleconference at 9 a.m. (MST) Friday, Feb. 11, to share progress on the early stages of aligning the James Webb Space Telescope's mirrors.

University of Arizona astronomer Marcia Rieke, principal investigator for the telescope's Near-Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, will join other scientists and engineers to review the first weeks of the months-long mirror alignment process and discuss early imagery that shows how the team has identified starlight in each of Webb's 18 hexagonal mirror segments.

NASA will make this imagery available at 8:30 a.m. (MST) before the call on the Webb telescope blog.

The Webb team has begun using images captured by NIRCam to slowly fine-tune the telescope. Early engineering imagery from the first stage in the telescope's alignment, called segment image identification, stitches together a series of more than 1,000 images to form 18 unfocused copies of a single star. This serves as the starting point for gradually aligning Webb's mirror segments into one precise system.

NIRCam was built by a team of researchers and engineers led by Rieke, a UArizona Regents Professor of Astronomy.

Following the telescope's alignment over the next several months, the Webb team will then move on to prepare the instruments for science observations and release the mission's first science images and data in early summer.

In addition to Rieke, teleconference participants include Lee Feinberg, Webb optical telescope element manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and Marshall Perrin, deputy telescope scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore

Webb, an international partnership with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, launched Dec. 25 from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. After unfolding into its final form in space and successfully reaching its destination 1 million miles from Earth, the observatory is now in the months-long process of preparing for science operations.

Webb will explore every phase of cosmic history – from within the solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe, and everything in between. Webb will reveal new and unexpected discoveries and help humanity understand the origins of the universe and our place in it.

NASA provides regular updates on the Webb telescope blog. The public also can follow Webb's progress online via a "Where is Webb?" interactive tracker.

Additional Webb Resources:

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Media contacts:
Mikayla Mace Kelley
University Communications

Daniel Stolte
University Communications

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 50 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2020 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $761 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 66 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.

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