NASA has already made images of planets from the solar system before. So why is NASA/ESA making images of planets from the solar system by using the JWST instead of exploring unseen parts of universe?


1 Answer 1


Quite simple: JWST is capable of making images with much better resolution in a different spectrum.

Land based telescopes cannot make such clear images due to the atmosphere being in the way. Additionally, the atmosphere blocks some significant parts of the (near) infrared spectrum, which is the spectrum in which the JWST is producing images (which are artificially coloured afterwards). Additionally, other space telescopes produce images with much lower resolutions and in different spectra, e.g. the Hubble in the visible spectrum and the Herschel Space Observatory in the far infrared and submillimetre spectrum.

  • $\begingroup$ @GremlinWranger or from space by Hubble $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 9:27
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    $\begingroup$ And layering on the IR data onto very well known subjects (local Planets) it quickly provides much important data for planetary researchers. And since we have imaging of some from much closer by probes, comparing can help understand how JWST sees things as well. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ Also, I believe there is an aspect of opportunism; if the telescope needs to slew past a planet in order to observe its next deep space target, why not take some pictures while it's doing so? Maybe that slew takes a little longer because of the pause, but the notion that we're just "wasting" JWST's time, as seems to be implied by the OP, isn't entirely accurate. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ If you go make this answer 100% complete, you could also explain why the images taken by Voyagers I and II are not sufficient. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 21:17
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    $\begingroup$ @ToddWilcox, it's simple: it's been almost 33 years since Voyager II last took a picture of Neptune. Things may have changed since then. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 1:04

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