NASA announces that the first full-color James Webb Space Telescope images will arrive on July 12


posted Thursday, June 2, 2022 at 9:00 AM EDT


NASA has announced that the first full-color images and spectroscopic data from the James Webb Space Telescope will be released on July 12. NASA has also set up a countdown on its JWST website.

We've already seen that the $10B space telescope can capture amazingly detailed photos, thanks to test images, but the images next month will be the first full-color ones we've seen.

"As we near the end of preparing the observatory for science, we are on the precipice of an incredibly exciting period of discovery about our universe. The release of Webb's first full-color images will offer a unique moment for us all to stop and marvel at a view humanity has never seen before," said Eric Smith, Webb program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These images will be the culmination of decades of dedication, talent, and dreams – but they will also be just the beginning."



Determining what Webb should observe first is a big decision. An international partnership between NASA, ESA, CSA and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) has taken more than five years to settle on a first observation. "Our goals for Webb's first images and data are both to showcase the telescope's powerful instruments and to preview the science mission to come," said astronomer Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist at STScI. "They are sure to deliver a long-awaited 'wow' for astronomers and the public."

Once Webb's instruments have finished calibration and pass final tests, the telescope will begin its first scientific imaging and observations. The team will then work through a list of priority targets. The production team will then receive data from Webb's instrument scientists and process the images for astronomers and the public.

One of Webb's test images captured using its MIRI instrument. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (left), NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI (right)

"I feel very privileged to be a part of it," said Alyssa Pagan, a science visuals developer at STScI. "Typically, the process from raw telescope data to final, clean image that communicates scientific information about the universe can take anywhere from weeks to a month," Pagan said.

Despite years of planning, we still don't know precisely what Webb's first full-color images will look like. However, Webb has performed extremely well during its testing phases, so expectations are high. July 12 cannot come fast enough!