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For the first time, the James Webb Space Telescope tracks an asteroid

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As the telescope nears the end of its six-month commissioning period, NASA’s next-generation space observatory successfully saw a moving asteroid.

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The successful tracking of a local object demonstrates that the James Webb Space Telescope can keep an eye on solar system objects as well as the distant galaxies, stars,

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and other distant objects that it is expected to observe over its potentially 20-year existence.

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“As we progress through commissioning, we will test other objects moving at different speeds to ensure that we can study objects with Webb that move throughout the solar system,” NASA wrote

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Webb’s ability to see nearby targets will allow it to observe everything from icy objects in the Kuiper Belt,

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to potentially habitable moons circling the gas giant planets of our solar system, the agency noted.

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