On July 12, 2022, five groups of scientists gathered in different agencies across the world to reveal the first five images taken by the historic NASA/European Space Agency/Canadian Space Agency James Webb Space Telescope. The release of the images officially marked the beginning of scientific operations on Webb, which is positioned 1.5 million kilometers away from Earth at the Sun-Earth Lagrange point two, or L2.
In the year since the release of its first images, Webb has already begun to rewrite the textbooks of astronomy, planetary science, astrophysics, cosmology, and more. From revealing stellar nurseries previously hidden behind pillars of dust, discovering the most distant active supermassive black hole, finding vital carbon molecules in the protoplanetary disks of young star systems, and unveiling galaxies that existed when the universe was just a few hundred million years old — Webb has already proven itself to be a monumental piece of machinery and one that will forever have an impact on the world, its people, and the fields of science we study.
To learn more about Webb’s first year of science operations, the observatory’s current health, and what we can expect to see from the observatory throughout the next year, NSF sat down with Dr. Stefanie Milam, Webb’s Deputy Project Scientist for Planetary Science.