Webb’s Fine Guidance Sensor Provides a Preview @NASA

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We are just a couple days away from the public release of the first science images from the James Webb Space Telescope. The telescope that cost over $10 billion and took more than 20 years to build, reached its destination more than a million miles away from the Earth earlier this year. Learn more at aristechnica and NASA

We are less than one week away from the release of the first full-color images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, but how does the observatory find and lock onto its targets? Webb’s Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) – developed by the Canadian Space Agency – was designed with this particular question in mind. Recently it captured a view of stars and galaxies that provides a tantalizing glimpse at what the telescope’s science instruments will reveal in the coming weeks, months, and years.

FGS has always been capable of capturing imagery, but its primary purpose is to enable accurate science measurements and imaging with precision pointing. When it does capture imagery, the imagery is typically not kept: Given the limited communications bandwidth between L2 and Earth, Webb only sends data from up to two science instruments at a time. But during a week-long stability test in May, it occurred to the team that they could keep the imagery that was being captured because there was available data transfer bandwidth.


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