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UNF engineers tested materials used on NASA’s Webb Telescope that will release historic images next week

Paul Eason testing materialsThe University of North Florida’s Materials Science and Engineering Research Facility director Dr. Paul Eason and Dr. Philip Brooke, managing engineer with Exponent and UNF undergraduate engineering alum, worked on a grant-funded project in 2010 to flight certify composite panels for use on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) over a decade before it was launched into space on December 25, 2021.  The JWST is just now set to release its first full-color images and spectroscopic data on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.

“I am very excited to see the first James Webb Space Telescope images that will give us a new, deeper understanding of the universe,” said Brooke. “It’s an honor to have contributed a small part to the countless hours of work from hundreds of engineers and scientists over decades that led up to this moment.”

In the six months since reaching its position in orbit past the moon, the JWST has been deploying and aligning its large mirror and testing systems and confirming the sharpness of its focusing ability. The images to be gathered next week will be the first in full color and are expected to showcase the telescope’s full imaging capability. Seeing deeper into space in unprecedented detail will allow scientists to view the early universe, the evolution of galaxies through time, the lifecycle of stars and other worlds.

The JWST is a partnership between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and is the largest and most complex observatory ever launched into space. Despite over a decade spent carefully designing its reflecting mirror and imaging systems, the new telescope is so powerful that it is difficult to predict exactly what the first images might reveal.