May 5, 2022

Media Advisory: UArizona astronomer to participate in teleconference on NASA Webb Telescope alignment and instrument setup

  • What: UArizona astronomer Marcia Rieke will participate in a NASA Webb Telescope media teleconference on preparing the telescope for science operations.
  • When: Monday, May 9, 8 a.m. (PT)
  • Where: The teleconference will be livestreamed on NASA Live.
  • RSVP: To ask questions during the teleconference, media must RSVP no later than two hours before the event to Laura Betz at NASA's media accreditation policy is available online

TUCSON, Ariz. – University of Arizona Regents Professor of Astronomy Marcia Rieke, principal investigator for the James Webb Space Telescope's Near-Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, will join other Webb scientists and engineers to discuss the end of telescope commissioning and the beginning of instrument commissioning during a NASA teleconference.

In early February, the Webb team successfully captured starlight through each of Webb's 18 mirror segments. In the following months, as Webb's science instruments cooled to their operating temperatures, the team progressed through the seven stages of mirror alignment. With the successful completion of the final stage in late April, all four of Webb's science instruments can now capture sharp, focused images. 

Among those instruments are NIRCam and the Mid-Infrared Instrument, or MIRI. UArizona Regents Professor of Astronomy George Rieke is MIRI's science team lead.

The Webb team will now take about two months to prepare and test the science instruments – a process known as instrument commissioning – before Webb's first science images are released to the public in the summer.

Teleconference participants will discuss the recent completion of mirror alignment and preview what to expect for Webb's final months of science instrument preparations. 

In addition to Marcia Rieke, participants include: 

  • Michael McElwain, Webb observatory project scientist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Jean Dupuis, space astronomy senior mission scientist, Canadian Space Agency
  • Christopher Evans, Webb project scientist, European Space Agency
  • Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist, Space Telescope Science Institute

Webb, an international partnership with NASA, 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.

Additional Webb Resources:

# # #

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.

The University of Arizona Land Acknowledgement