UNITED STATES: The first photos and infrared spectra of Mars from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) were made public by the European Space Agency (ESA). The Webb telescope first captured images and spectra of the red planet on September 5.
Webb is located near the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point(L2), 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. The area of Mars’ sunny side towards the telescope, known as the viewable disc, is visible from the telescope’s vantage point.
As a result, JWST can record spectra and pictures with the precise resolution required to investigate transient processes. Dust storms, weather patterns, and seasonal shifts are a few of these phenomena.
To get around this, scientists must employ specialised detection methods, such as very brief exposure times and measuring only a portion of the light that reaches the detectors. They then arrived at the image using unique data analysis techniques.
The Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on JWST’s initial Mars photos shows a portion of the planet’s eastern hemisphere at two different wavelengths. In the image above, two Webb NIRCam sensor fields are superimposed on the left side of a surface reference map captured by NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor.
The Webb photos of Mars reveal variations in brightness over a wide range of wavelengths across the planet at a specific time and date.
But the spectrum shows how the planet is represented by the small brightness differences between thousands of different wavelengths. Astronomers will examine spectrum features to learn more about the planet’s surface and atmosphere.
According to NASA, the Mars team will later use these images and spectroscopic data to investigate regional variations on the planet and look for trace gases like methane and hydrogen chloride that may be present in the atmosphere.
The Webb Cycle 1 Guaranteed Time Observation (GTO) solar system programme, which Heidi Hammel of AURA oversees, carried out these NIRCam and NIRSpec observations of Mars.