December 8, 2022

The James Webb Space Telescope, operated by NASA, recently snapped its first pictures of our neighbouring planet, Mars. The telescope was safely launched in December 2021 and is currently operating. The telescope, a result of an international partnership with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, adds to the information being gathered by orbiters, rovers, and other telescopes by offering a distinctive perspective on Mars with its infrared sensitivity, according to NASA.

The NASA Webb Telescope tweeted , “Webb got its first look at @NASAMars! The close-up on the left reveals surface features such as Huygens Crater, dark volcanic Syrtis Major, and Hellas Basin, while the “heat map” on the right shows light being given off by Mars as it loses heat.”

According to the NASA blog, an area of the planet’s eastern hemisphere can be seen in two distinct infrared light colours or wavelengths in Webb’s new photographs. The Near-Infrared Camera has recorded them (NIRCam).

In this image, the two Webb NIRCam instrument field of views are superimposed over a NASA surface reference map on the left and the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on the right. On the right are the Webb near-infrared photographs.

According to the NASA blog, the principal investigator of these Webb observations, Geronimo Villanueva of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and his colleagues recently published Webb’s first near-infrared spectrum of Mars, showcasing the capability of Webb to explore the Red Planet with spectroscopy.

The spectrum displays the subtle variations in brightness between hundreds of different wavelengths that are representative of the planet as a whole, as opposed to the images, which show differences in brightness integrated over a large number of wavelengths from place to place across the planet at a specific day and time.

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(Source : ANI)