Space selfies are all the rage nowadays. They used to be the exclusive trick of Martian rovers and some clever photoshopping to remove the camera arm but now we have rovers with wireless cameras and orbiters releasing small cameras and even spacecraft with surprise selfie sticks.
JWST is now in that category as well. Last week NASA unveiled the first-ever images from JWST, which are incredible and pretty blurry. But along with those boundary-pushing images they also snuck in a surprise selfie of the next-generation space telescope.
Hubble’s successor doesn’t need special arms, however. JWST's main instrument camera, NIRCam, has a special lens that can be employed during engineering operations, currently busy aligning the 18 segments of its primary mirror.
The telescope's first images provide important indications to where each mirror is pointing and the selfie gives extra insight. You can see in the image that one of the hexagonal segments is super bright. That was the one that was pointing towards HD 84406, a star in the constellation of Ursa Major that is bright and isolated and perfect for JWST scientists to use in the alignment process.
It is clear that the other segments are not in the same alignment yet. It will take around three months for the optics of the telescope to be perfectly aligned, ready to begin the science mission.