Webb telescope camera designer: Meet astronomer Marcia Rieke

As the principal investigator for the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), the first imager on the James Webb Space Telescope, Marcia Rieke knew what the digital camera she developed was able to.

But it wasn’t till the primary jaw-dropping pictures had been beamed again to Earth in mid-July that Rieke, an astrophysicist and professor on the University of Arizona, realized the complete extent of her work. 

“Everyone was astounded at how beautiful and detailed the pictures were,” Rieke mentioned. “I was above cloud nine because these were such stunning pictures.

“And on the one hand we calculated what the image parameters would be, or the quality of the images, but until you actually see a real image taken through the telescope, not just of a single star, but of an interesting place, you just don’t realize how wonderful this telescope actually is.”

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