COLORADO SPRINGS — The first observations of the James Webb Space Telescope were released Tuesday. Here to talk about the new telescope with FOX21’s Matt Meister, is NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Instrument Payload Project Scientist, Matt Greenhouse.

In 2021, NASA and a group of scientists across the globe launched the James Webb Space Telescope. It’s the next generation of great space observatories. Now it is settled into orbit and fully functional.

When asked how it feels to share the first images with the world, Greenhouse replied, “It’s just amazing… The project started in 1995 and here we finally have the first images from it. Personally, I found the images to be more exciting than the launch itself.”

You might be wondering what exactly is an instrument payload project scientist?

“I was responsible for the instruments on the telescope. They’re the systems that actually record the imagery and spectra and digitized that light so the data can be sent to the ground,” said Greenhouse.

Meister, FOX21’s meteorologist, is familiar with looking at different wavelengths off of weather satellites. Webb is an infrared telescope, which is a little bit different than Hubble, according to Meister. It can observe a bit of the infrared spectrum but is primarily in the visible spectrum. Meister asked why looking at the infrared spectrum is so important.

“One of the primary objectives of the Webb mission is to see the birth of the first stars and galaxies. And the light emitted by the first galaxies is stretched into the infrared,” stated Greenhouse. “Its wavelength is actually stretched into the infrared as it travels to us through the expanding space of the universe. The light from the first galaxies has been traveling to us for 13 billion years.”

For reference, it takes light from the sun, about 8 minutes to get to Earth. And so we literally are seeing the birth of the universe, according to Meister.

For future observations, Greenhouse expects to understand how the first galaxies formed after the Big Bang and why supermassive black holes formed much quicker than scientists can currently explain.

“As the Webb Science Mission really takes off… The Web will begin the search for life in the universe, which is no longer the stuff of science fiction, it’s very much a major science objective of NASA,” stated Greenhouse.

During the building of the telescope, NASA’s mission evolved into observing not only galaxies but exoplanets as well.

“Exoplanets is a relatively new field that’s exploded onto the scene during the development of the Webb mission… The Webb Telescope is very well suited to studying exoplanets, and it should be a major part of the science that Webb does. Some of the most exciting science will come from that area,” said Greenhouse.

NASA often looks for planets in the Goldilocks zone, an area where temperatures are not too hot or too cold for the presence of water to exist on the surface of surrounding planets. Does this mean there is potential for life on some of those planets? We’ll just have to wait for more data and research from NASA.