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A rockfall hit the James Webb Telescope

BingMag.com A <b>rockfall</b> <b>hit</b> the <b>James</b> <b>Webb</b> Telescope

A meteorite collided with NASA's powerful new space observatory, the James Webb Telescope, damaging its main mirror.

This meteorite Larger than expected, in late May (early June), one of the spacecraft's 18 main mirror sections was damaged. The impact means the mission team must correct the collision distortion, but NASA says the Telescope is still operating at a level that can exceed all mission requirements.

James Webb Space Telescope NASA (JWST) is the organization's ultra-powerful space telescope, designed to look into the farthest reaches of the universe and see stars and galaxies formed just after the Big Bang. The space observatory cost NASA nearly $ 10 billion to build and took more than two decades to complete.

But finally, on Christmas Day 2021, James Webb was launched and within a month. It reached 1.5 million kilometers from Earth and opened under a very complex process.

NASA says the observatory has been hit by at least four different rocks since its launch, but all of them are small. And were about the expected size. A meteorite is usually a small piece of an asteroid that is smaller than a grain of sand.

But what just hit the Web was the larger dimensions that the agency was prepared for. Although NASA did not specify the exact size, it said the collision between May 23 and 25 (June 2 and 4) caused a noticeable impact on the data, and engineers continued to analyze the impact of the impact.

BingMag.com A <b>rockfall</b> <b>hit</b> the <b>James</b> <b>Webb</b> Telescope

The James Webb cover protects it from many small microscopic shocks.
Credit Drew Noel, NASA

NASA expected James Webb to be hit by small space particles during his lifetime because high-velocity space rock fragments are an inevitable feature of the deep space environment. In fact, the telescope's golden mirrors are designed to withstand the impact of small space debris over time. Strengthen more against the impact of micro-meteorites. But the models they used for these simulations did not have large rockfalls, and this collision was beyond what the team could test on the ground.

At the same time, this was not too unexpected. "We always knew the web had to tolerate deep space, which includes powerful ultraviolet light and charged solar particles, cosmic rays from strange sources in the galaxy," said Paul Geithner, vice president of web design at NASA's Goddard Space Center. "And occasional collisions of meteorites are in the solar system." The problem, however, was that the meteorites were not part of a meteor shower, so NASA called it an "inevitable accidental event." The impact of the meteorites will be of this magnitude, and because James Webb is so sensitive, the Telescope itself will help NASA better understand the number of meteorites in deep space.

BingMag.com A <b>rockfall</b> <b>hit</b> the <b>James</b> <b>Webb</b> Telescope

Review of James Webb Mirrors on Earth
Credit: ESA

NASA Even after this clash, he is optimistic about the future of James Webb. "The performance of the Web at the beginning of its scientific life is still far beyond expectations, and the observatory is quite capable of carrying out the scientific missions it is designed to achieve," the agency wrote. Adjust the impacted mirror to help neutralize data distortion. The mission team has done this before and will continue to work with the mirror over time to get the best results.

This is a process that takes place over 5 years. James Webb's planned 10 years of life will continue as new observations are made and new collision events unfold. At the same time, NASA warned that engineers could not completely neutralize the impact of the collision.

Because James Webb was alone in space, NASA engineers had to make it very strong. Unlike its Hubble Space Telescope, which is still in Earth orbit, the James Webb is not designed to be repairable.

This means that if something in the spacecraft fails, engineers must find a way to repair it. Troubleshoot from the ground. There is currently no capability to send humans or a robotic spacecraft to set up the James Webb The observatory must live with a slightly damaged mirror until the end of its mission, while NASA expects the spacecraft to deal with more space debris over time.

It does not affect the James Webb program. The news of the collision comes just a month before a major turning point in the mission. After spending the past few months accurately calibrating James Webb tools and aligning spacecraft mirrors, the mission team is set to unveil the first full-color images of James Webb on July 12th. NASA has not announced what these images represent, but they will definitely be spectacular.

Cover Photo: Graphic Design by James Webb
Credit: NASA

Source: The Verge

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