A small meteor impacted a mirror on the James Webb Space Telescope last month, but it is expected to continue to function normally, NASA said Thursday.
“After initial evaluations, the team found that the telescope was still operating at a level above all mission requirements despite the marginal effect on the data,” the US space agency said.
“Webb’s early life performance remains well above expectations, and the observatory is fully capable of performing the science it was designed to achieve,” she added.
One of the space observatory’s primary mirror pieces suffered the impact of a small meteor, which tends to be smaller than a grain of sand, between May 23 and 25.
The telescope, which is expected to cost NASA nearly $10 billion, is among the most expensive science platforms ever built, compared to its predecessor, Hubble, and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
Webb’s mission involves studying distant planets, known as exoplanets, to determine their origin, evolution and habitability, and is expected to produce “amazing color images” of the universe in mid-July.
The telescope has spent the past few months aligning its instruments in preparation for the big reveal.
NASA said micrometeorite strikes are an “inevitable aspect of the operation of any spacecraft” and “were foreseen when building and testing Mirror. “
“This latter effect was greater than designed, and beyond what the team could have tested on the ground,” she said.
“With Webb’s mirror exposure to space, we expected the impacts of accidental micrometeorites to safely decay,” said Lee Feinberg, Elements Manager for the Webb Optical Telescope at NASA Goddard. telescope performance over time.
“Since launch, we have had four small, measurable hits from minute meteors that are consistent with expectations,” Feinberg said.
NASA said that to protect Webb, flight teams can keep optics out of knowledge meteor showers.
She said the May strike was not the result of a meteor shower, but rather an “inevitable coincidence.”
© 2022 AFP
the quote: The James Webb Telescope hit by a micrometeorite: Retrieved by NASA (2022-June 9) on June 9, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-james-webb-telescope-micrometeoroid-nasa.html
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