James Webb’s First Color Photos Will Also Be Farthest Ever Captured


The images released from the James Webb Space Telescope on July 12 will be the deepest view of the universe ever taken, and some scientists say they’ve been brought to tears by the photographs.

NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) will jointly release the James Webb Space Telescope’s first full-color images and spectroscopic data during a live broadcast on July 12 at 10:40 AM EDT.

“Webb is nothing short of a real scientific feat. One of those images (to be released) on July 12 is the deepest image of our universe that has ever been taken,” says NASA administrator Bill Nelson.

“If you think about that, this is farther than humanity has ever looked before and we are only beginning to understand what Webb can and will do.

James Webb Space Telescope
Photo of the James Webb Space Telescope taken on March 5, 2020. | NASA/Chris Gunn

“It’s going to explore objects in the solar system and exoplanets orbiting other stars giving us clues as to whether, potentially, their atmospheres are similar to our own and may answer some questions that we have: where do we come from? What more is out there? Who are we? And of course, it’s going to answer some questions that we don’t even know what the questions are.

“In many ways, Webb’s journey has only just begun. We are going to give humanity a new view of the cosmos, and it’s a view we’ve never seen before.”

Moved to Tears

NASA’s deputy administrator, Pam Melroy, teased the world when describing the images from Webb. “What I have seen moved me, as a scientist, as an engineer, and as a human being,” she says

“There is already some amazing science in the can, and some others are yet to be taken as we go forward. We are in the middle of getting the history-making data down,” says Thomas Zurbuchen, who leads NASA’s scientific programs.

Recounting his first encounter with data from Webb, Zurbuchen said he, too, was in awe of what the telescope had proven capable of. He says he almost cried when looking at the first photos taken by the new instrument.

“It’s really hard to not look at the universe in a new light and not just have a moment that is deeply personal,” he says. “It’s an emotional moment when you see nature suddenly releasing some of its secrets, and I would like you to imagine and look forward to that.”

Image credits: Photos via NASA