Southwest Research Institute explains significance of new images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

San Antonio researchers are part of a team helping NASA with its Europa Jupiter Mission scheduled for October 2024

NASA’s newly released high-resolution color images from the James Webb Space Telescope are a snapshot of our universe millions of years ago and the result of 120 hours of observation or about five days’ worth of data.

SAN ANTONIO – NASA’s newly released high-resolution color images from the James Webb Space Telescope are a snapshot of our universe millions of years ago and the result of 120 hours of observation or about five days’ worth of data.

KSAT spoke with Tracy Becker, group leader of the Remote Sensing Observers Group at the Southwest Research Institute, about what this means for space research and us here on Earth.

The JWST is similar to the Hubble Space Telescope, which is still orbiting Earth.

However, since the JWST is in a different location with improved technology, it can give better images with more depth.

“You can compare it to what Hubble was able to see, and you get this much, much sharper, crisper picture of the galaxies,” Becker said. “We can see that same galaxy that’s hiding behind this massive object. We can see it above and to the right, to the left and below it as a result of this lensing effect.”

With these images, researchers will better understand the compositions of stars and some exoplanets, also known as planets outside the Solar System.

“We’re going to be looking for some of the galaxies to really understand the structure, to understand the shape of those galaxies, to understand where the gases are coming from, where are the stars being born,” Becker said.

But why should you care?

Researchers say this could be the key to answering the question of life on other planets.

“I think just that drive for discovery, that drive for understanding more of exploring the unknown, is a fundamental aspect of what makes us human. And I think that’s why people should be excited about JWST and everything that NASA is working on,” Becker said.

Researchers with the Southwest Research Institute are a part of a team helping NASA with their Europa Jupiter Mission scheduled for October 2024.

Becker said these images would play a significant role in their research.

To read more about the images or the Europa, visit NASA’s website.


About the Author:

Alexsis Page has been a News Producer at KSAT since 2019. A former military brat, she was born in Killeen, raised in El Paso, but calls Lawton, Oklahoma, home. She began her journalism career as an editor and later news producer at KSWO in Lawton and also produced at WICS/WRSP in Springfield, Illinois.