On 12 July 2022, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shared the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date—documented by its James Webb Space Telescope. Dubbed as the world’s most powerful space telescope, Webb captured the stunning picture in less than a day, while similar images from the Hubble Space Telescope (which was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990) can reportedly take weeks.
“If you held a grain of sand to the sky at arm’s length, that speck is the size of Webb’s view here,” NASA captioned its post on Instagram. “Imagine—galaxies galore within a grain!” The organisation also reminded how this isn’t the farthest back we’ve seen into the universe either. ”Non-infrared missions like COBE & WMAP saw the universe closer to the Big Bang (about 380,000 years after), when there was microwave background radiation, but no stars or galaxies. Webb sees a few 100 million years after,” it explained.
As NASA continued to release more pictures from the series of first images captured by Webb, President Biden remarked, “These images are going to remind the world that America can do big things, and remind the American people—especially our children—that there’s nothing beyond our capacity. We can see possibilities no one has ever seen before. We can go places no one has ever gone before.”
Well, as it turns out, among emotional wallpaper edits and humbling existential crises, the internet did see possibilities in the marvellous images and went places no one has ever gone before… in meme culture. Here are 15 of the best memes that shook the internet following Webb’s first iconic image of the universe.