NASA is ready to show off the James Webb Space Telescope’s full capabilities now that the first images have made the rounds. The most recent is a different view of Jupiter than we’re used to seeing. Aurora glows at each of the poles. Citizen scientist Judy Schmidt used processed the telescope’s public data into this masterpiece. She colorized clouds and haze. The planet’s Great Red Spot and other high-altitude clouds appear white in this view. More images show Jupiter’s faint rings and a few of its moons.
During the testing phase, the James Webb Space Telescope took pictures of Jupiter to try out its “near” settings. Scientists also wanted to see how photographs of faint objects near bright ones would turn out. And the answer is really well! The series of space photos uses different filters on the infrared camera. All these new Jupiter images show the incredible details of the planet and its surrounding moons.
“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, who helped plan these observations.
Even though NASA has thousands of pictures of Jupiter thanks to the Juno mission orbiting the planet and its moons, these news ones taken by the James Webb Space Telescope are very exciting to scientists. More images (below) use different filters. These even show Jupiter’s rings, which are so faint they don’t show up in most pictures.
Not to be forgotten, a Hubble Space Telescope picture of Jupiter taken in 2016 made the rounds again. As if jealous of all the attention the James Webb Space Telescope received this week, Hubble wanted to remind us all of its grind these past 30 years. And it’s always fun to see Jupiter wearing a hat made of glowing blue aurora.
Keep in mind that these are images taken to test the James Webb Space Telescope and all its capabilities. Filters and citizen scientists mean this is just the beginning of stunning space images coming our way!
Originally published on July 15.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.