In just its first week of beaming back images, the Webb Space Telescope has shown its versatility. On Tuesday, NASA unveiled a picture of a galaxy 13.1 billion light-years away.
Now, it shows a planet in our solar system with incredible detail.
The telescope beamed back an image of Jupiter that showed its Great Red Spot and moon Europa in detail. The image revealed Europa’s shadow on Jupiter near the Great Red Spot.
“Combined with the deep field images released the other day, these images of Jupiter demonstrate the full grasp of what Webb can observe, from the faintest, most distant observable galaxies to planets in our own cosmic backyard that you can see with the naked eye from your actual backyard,” said Bryan Holler, a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
NASA has targeted Europa for upcoming missions as it likely contains a liquid ocean beneath its icy surface.
“I couldn’t believe that we saw everything so clearly, and how bright they were,” said Stefanie Milam, Webb’s deputy project scientist for planetary science based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It’s really exciting to think of the capability and opportunity that we have for observing these kinds of objects in our solar system.”