The stars are aligned for the telescope.

Scientists confirm that the space observatory is almost ready to start scientific operations later this year.

The $10 billion telescope is nearing its biggest milestone yet. NASA released a bunch of stunning new sample images taken by the telescope, showing the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.

Is This Thing On?

After the completion of the next phase, called science instrument commissioning, scientific operations can begin.

The telescope is already exceeding expectations, with its optical performance besting the team's most optimistic predictions, according to the space agency's update.

Each scientific instrument will have to be configured and tested to be ready for prime time. The Mission Operations Center at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore has teams of scientists that are tasked with operating the various instruments.

Prof Mark McCaughrean is the senior science advisor for the telescope alignment phase.

We are ready to check the many complicated ways each of them can catch the telescope's light and do the amazing science we dreamed of more than 20 years ago.

NASA's is ready for instrument commissioning.

There is more on the telescope.