JWST is still testing, still calibrating, now into the finest most sensitive instruments, the spectrometers.
If you're geeky about these things, the optics divisions, spectrographic sensitivity, accurately aligning the wave fronts of target frequencies, are real rabbit holes to enjoy. That whole machine is amazing and the spectroscopy is better than a lot of advanced ground scopes.
Cycle 1 observations are still scheduled to be taken mid-July with the release of NASA's last batch of commissioning test images on July 12.
The new run will be 4 years of contunuous proton smashing at 13.6 TeV.
That's a lot. It is twice the old run's power.
Higgs and higgs-like particles, supersymmetry particles, dark matter particles and so much more. Even, maybe, some mini-black holes that will form an interdimensional portal that will eat a large portion of reality before they collapse back into the background.
So, over the next 4 years, if you wake up and see that reality has stopped and everything is wrong then turn over, snooze a few minutes, and look again. If there is only void and you don't exist anymore then it was the LHC. If reality is still all screwed up and getting worse then it's your meds.
Major hype over the JWST “First Light” release on Jul 12. Everyone is so excited. Too excited.
NASA media/PR handlers have created the impression we all will be mind-blown by this first release. The scientific community already knows what to expect and, indeed, they are already dancing with delight just from the hints coming from the JWST imaging team. This data release involves the deep spectrographics JWST was built for. This is first light, the JWST in all its power. This is the astronomers wet dream and that is what they are about to get.
But the public at large are in for an enormous let down. We’re going to get 5 +- pretty pictures of known structures already in the books but, as comparisons to Hubble, as sharp and as clear as your phone will let you see. That is all.
There is not going to be any great cosmic reveal of Universal secrets. I fear the overhype will sour JWSTs taste in the public mind. They are looking for $10 billion of something magical to happen and I fear the next few public data releases will not meet the hyped-up expectations. I keep trying to tell folks not to be so excited but the tube/toothpaste analogy rules here.
If you’re an astronomer then have the paper bag ready to breathe in to stop hyperventilating when you see just how detailed the raw data really is. Every photon this thing collects is detailed, photographed, mug shot with a laundry list of details like frequency, amplitude, momentum, polarity, social security number and mother’s maiden name. The big hints from NASA are that the spectrographic data will be well beyond expectations.
But for the rest of us, yes, we are about to see some really nice pretty pictures, but that’s it. Put down your pen. We will not be re-writing cosmology. But do clean your glasses and get the HD+ screen ready on your PC.