The James Webb telescope studies not only distant galaxies and nebulae. It can also take pictures of planets that are close to Earth. According to The Independent, the telescope sometimes turns its mirror on nearby celestial bodies, taking clear pictures.
As early as September 5, the telescope made its first observations of the Red Planet. And now the resulting pictures can be seen by everyone. The near-infrared camera NIRcam was used to image Mars, which took pictures of the Huygens crater and the Hellas Plain. An infrared spectrometer was also used, with the help of which it was possible to see the remains of chemicals in the planet’s atmosphere.
According to Heidi Hummel of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, these photographs allow us to study the features of the surface and the effects of the Martian atmosphere. To make the clearest possible images, Mars Observation Director Dr. Geronimo Villanueva has developed a program that relies on extremely short exposures, specialized observation modes, and careful selection of long wavelengths. This makes Mars appear less bright, but some aspects of the detectors were still overwhelmed by the Red Planet’s brightness.
Thanks to the infrared sensors of the telescope, scientists will be able to observe Mars even during dust storms. This will allow you to better explore its atmosphere. The scientists also plan to study as much as possible information about the chemical composition of the planet’s surface and its atmosphere, temperature, seasons, the presence of water, dust storms and carbon dioxide.