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James Webb provides FIRST look at Mars that reveal elements of Red Planet's atmosphere

The James Webb Space Telescope has released its first images of Mars.  The first image shows a surface reference map from NASA and the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on the left, with the two fields of view from the Webb NIRCam instrument overlaid.  The two near-infrared images of Webb are on the right.

The James Webb Space Telescope has released its first images of Mars, providing a unique and more detailed look at the Red Planet’s atmosphere.

The giant telescope, which sits nearly a million miles from Earth, is giving scientists and the public a glimpse of Mars’ observable disk — that is, the part of the planet’s sunlit side that faces forward. the.

Webb’s first images of Mars were captured by its near-infrared camera (NIRCam). They represent a region of the planet’s eastern hemisphere in two different wavelengths, or colors, of infrared light.

The Red Planet is one of the brightest objects in the night sky due to its relative proximity to Earth, but this poses challenges for the JWST, which was built to detect the faintest light from galaxies far away in the universe.

The James Webb Space Telescope has released its first images of Mars.  The first image shows a surface reference map from NASA and the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on the left, with the two fields of view from the Webb NIRCam instrument overlaid.  The two near-infrared images of Webb are on the right.

The James Webb Space Telescope has released its first images of Mars. The first image shows a surface reference map from NASA and the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on the left, with the two fields of view from the Webb NIRCam instrument overlaid. The two near-infrared images of Webb are on the right.

The first image shows a surface reference map from NASA and the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on the left, with the two fields of view from the Webb NIRCam instrument overlaid. The two near-infrared images of Webb are on the right.

NIRCam’s shorter-wavelength image is dominated by reflected sunlight and thus reveals surface details similar to those that appear in visible-light images.

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The rings of Huygens Crater (the fifth largest impact crater on the planet named after astronomer Christiaan Huygens), the dark volcanic rock of Syrtis Major (a well-known dark spot), and the glow in the Hellas Basin are evident in this image. . The basin is the largest well-preserved impact structure on Mars, stretching more than 1,200 miles, the space agency notes.

As light emitted by the planet passes through Mars’ atmosphere, some is absorbed by carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules, causing the Hellas Basin appear darker than the surroundings due to this effect.

The Red Planet is one of the brightest objects in the night sky due to its relative proximity to Earth, but this poses challenges for the JWST, which was built to detect the faintest light from galaxies far away in the universe.

The Red Planet is one of the brightest objects in the night sky due to its relative proximity to Earth, but this poses challenges for the JWST, which was built to detect the faintest light from galaxies far away in the universe.

The rings of Huygens crater, the dark volcanic rock of Syrtis Major, and the glow in the Hellas Basin are evident in this image.  The basin is the largest well-preserved impact structure on Mars, stretching more than 1,200 miles, the space agency notes.

The rings of Huygens crater, the dark volcanic rock of Syrtis Major, and the glow in the Hellas Basin are evident in this image. The basin is the largest well-preserved impact structure on Mars, stretching more than 1,200 miles, the space agency notes.

“This is not actually a thermal effect in Hellas,” explains lead investigator Geronimo Villanueva of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who designed these Webb observations.

‘The Hellas Basin is at a lower altitude and therefore experiences higher air pressure. That higher pressure leads to a suppression of thermal emission in this particular wavelength range due to an effect called pressure broadening. It will be very interesting to separate these competitive effects in this data.”

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Villanueva and his team also released Webb’s first near-infrared spectrum of Mars, showing tiny variations in brightness between hundreds of different wavelengths.

“This is actually not a thermal effect in Hellas,” explains lead investigator Geronimo Villanueva of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who designed these Webb observations.

‘The Hellas Basin is at a lower altitude and therefore experiences higher air pressure. That higher pressure leads to a suppression of thermal emission in this particular wavelength range due to an effect called pressure broadening. It will be very interesting to separate these competitive effects in this data.”

“Preliminary spectrum analysis shows a rich set of spectral features that contain information about dust, icy clouds, what kinds of rocks are on the planet’s surface, and the composition of the atmosphere,” says NASA.

“Spectral signatures, including deep valleys known as absorption features, of water, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide are easily detected with Webb.”

The US space agency also noted that Webb’s instruments are so sensitive that they require special techniques to avoid something called ‘detector saturation’ due to the bright infrared light from Mars.

Astronomers can adjust for this by using short exposures to measure only part of the light reaching the detectors, and by applying ‘special data analysis techniques’.

NASA explained the telescope’s outlook in a statement: “Webb can capture images and spectra with the spectral resolution necessary to study short-term phenomena such as dust storms, weather patterns, seasonal changes, and, in a single observation, processes that occur in Different moments”. (day, sunset and night) of a Martian day.

The new images take advantage of Webb science data that is still in progress and has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Last week, Webb captured a stunning image of the Orion Nebula that formed 4.5 billion years ago.

That image showed an open cluster of young massive stars shaping the cloud of dust and gas with their intense radiation and dense filaments that may play a key role in the birth of new stars.

The nebula was previously imaged by the Hubble Telescope in 2004, but this device uses visible light and its view was obscured by large amounts of stardust.

JWST, however, detects infrared light from the cosmos, allowing observers to see through these dust layers and peer into its cosmic center, a region just seen by human eyes.

Last week, Webb captured a stunning image of the Orion Nebula that formed 4.5 billion years ago (above).

Last week, Webb captured a stunning image of the Orion Nebula that formed 4.5 billion years ago (above).

That image showed an open cluster of young massive stars shaping the cloud of dust and gas with their intense radiation and dense filaments that may play a key role in the birth of new stars.

That image showed an open cluster of young massive stars shaping the cloud of dust and gas with their intense radiation and dense filaments that may play a key role in the birth of new stars.

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