The photos are great and so is the technology behind the photos…

The photos are great and so is the technology behind the photos…

NASA’s James Webb telescope has been wowing astronomers lately with stunning photos of some of the first stars in the universe — photos that capture light from more than 13 billion years ago.

But while the JWST flies through space, it’s done more for us here on Earth than show images of distant galaxies. The technology developed to build the JWST has also helped improve the vision of millions of eye surgery patients.

It’s one of the latest examples in a long history of NASA inventions making an impact on everyday life.

While building the JWST, NASA contractors developed a tool to measure the “microscopic imperfections” on its mirrors, Lockney said. That same technology has allowed eye surgeons to take precise measurements of patients’ eyes before they undergo LASIK surgery.

Source: NPR

Although the James Webb telescope doesn’t look like traditional tube-shaped models, it is still considered a reflecting telescope. The James Webb Space Telescope uses a 19.7-foot-tall primary mirror to collect light. That light is bounced to a smaller secondary mirror, which then redirects it onto the telescope’s instruments, including a camera that records an image.

Unlike what the Facebook video implies, broadcasting a signal through space is not impossible and has happened since the radio was invented in the 1890s. Radio and television signals emanating from Earth have even traveled outside our solar system.


Webb is designed to be sensitive to light that we cannot see. It also has four science instruments and seventeen modes.

“When you get the data down, they they don’t look anything like a beautiful color image,” said Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist at STScI, who heads-up a team of 30 expert image manipulators. “They don’t hardly look like anything at all [and] it’s only if you know what to look for that you can appreciate them.”

Some of the Technology behind the photos