In Science and Space: Since July, the James Webb Space Telescope has amazed the world with stunning images from space, including cartwheel galaxies, galaxies 13 billion years old, the Tarantula Nebula, and incredible glimpses of Jupiter.
In a recently released video of her, Webb’s near-infrared camera captured two views of her on the red planet. However, it can record a variety of short-term phenomena on Earth, such as dust storms, weather patterns, and seasonal changes. Also, a single observation can record processes occurring at different times (day, sunset, night).
Now Webb is high-tech training his camera to Mars. Mars is a much closer target, a body that stands out in the night sky from Terra’s prime thanks to its brightness.
NASA reports that because Mars is so close, the red planet is one of the brightest objects in the night sky, and is said to be detectable in visible light (visible to the human eye) and infrared (Webb) are excellent in both respects. NASA says Mars’ brightness poses particular challenges for Webb, which is built to see the very faint light from the most distant galaxies in the universe. Webb’s instrument is so sensitive that, without special observation techniques, bright infrared light from Mars can blind it, a phenomenon known as “detector saturation.”