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James Webb Space Telescope was hit by a tiny space rock – but it’s OK

One of many mirrors of NASA’s large new house observatory, the James Webb House Telescope, was hit by a small house rock bigger than something they examined it with on the bottom


8 June 2022

An artist’s conception of the James Webb House Telescope

NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been struck by a small house rock. A micrometeoroid hit one of many telescope’s important mirrors between 23 and 25 Could, however the NASA workforce that operates it doesn’t count on the impression to considerably have an effect on the observatory’s knowledge.

JWST launched on the finish of 2021 and reached its permanent orbit in January. Since then, the engineering workforce has been making ready the telescope’s devices for science observations. Probably the most delicate and finicky a part of the observatory is its main mirror, which is made up of 18 smaller, hexagonal mirrors coated in gold.

The photo voltaic system is full of micrometeoroids, most in regards to the measurement of a grain of mud, so one hitting JWST will not be surprising. The mirrors have been designed to face up to small impacts, and have been examined earlier than the spacecraft launched.

Nevertheless, the one which hit the telescope in Could was bigger than something the NASA workforce examined or simulated on the bottom, and since it was not a part of a meteor shower, no person predicted it. Had they carried out so, the telescope’s operators would have been capable of flip it to keep away from a direct impression.

“Since launch, we’ve got had 4 smaller measurable micrometeoroid strikes that have been in step with expectations, and this another just lately that’s bigger than our degradation predictions assumed,” mentioned JWST workforce member Lee Feinberg at NASA’s Goddard House Flight Heart in an official blog post printed on 8 June. “We’ll use this flight knowledge to replace our evaluation of efficiency over time and likewise develop operational approaches to guarantee we maximise the imaging efficiency of Webb to one of the best extent attainable for a few years to return.”

Whereas the impact of this impression on the information is important sufficient to be detectable, the observatory workforce discovered that the telescope’s future pictures gained’t be degraded too badly. For now, JWST remains to be performing properly above the extent that’s required for its deliberate science observations, together with these of the early universe and the very first galaxies.

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