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Neptune and its rings haven’t looked so good in decades.

NASA on Wednesday released new glamor shots of the outermost planet in our solar system, taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. Photos taken in July show not only Neptune’s thin rings, but its faint dust bands, never before seen in the infrared, as well as seven of its 14 known moons.


Webb best shows Jupiter in a series of fresh photos released last month.

Launched less than a year ago, the $10 billion web is spending most of its time looking too deep into the universe. Astronomers expect that roughly the beginning of the time when the first stars and galaxies were forming.

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NASA’s Voyager 2 was the first spacecraft to see Neptune in all its gaseous glory during its 1989 flyby. No other spacecraft has visited the icy, blue planet. It’s been three decades since astronomers last observed these rings with so much detail and clarity, said Heidi Hamel of the Space Science Institute, a planetary astronomer who worked with Webb.

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Hummel tweeted that when she saw the rings, she was crying, screaming and “seeing my kids, my mom, even my cats.”

This image, provided by NASA on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, shows the Neptune system captured by Webb's Near-Infrared Camera, revealing the planet's rings, which have been in this clarity for more than three decades. Haven't seen together.

Webb is the world’s largest, most powerful telescope, operating 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth. It rocketed into space last December.

According to NASA, except for one object, the observatory is in good health.

NASA reported this week that a mechanism on one of Webb’s instruments showed signs of increased friction in one of four observation modes late last month. Observations are ongoing in this one particular observation track, as the review board decides on the way forward.