Largest space telescope sustains ‘uncorrectable’ damage — Analysis

The James Webb Space Telescope was hit harder by a tiny rock from space than it had been previously believed.

A May meteoroid caused permanent damage to the world’s largest optical telescope, according to an investigation.

The James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST), was struck by a small meteoroid between May 22-24. NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Canada Space Agency published a performance update last week. “caused uncorrectable change in the overall figure” of the observatory’s C3 mirror segment.

“The effect was small at the full telescope level because only a small portion of the telescope area was affected.”

Although the telescope was built to withstand these collisions, the report states that the hit in May had damaged the instrument. “exceeded prelaunch expectations of damage for a single micrometeoroid.” 

Current uncertainty stems from the long-term micrometeoroid effects that slow down the primary mirror.

NASA announced last month, that while damage analysis is ongoing, the telescope was still operational. “still performing at a level that exceeds all mission requirements despite a marginally detectable effect in the data.”

NASA publishes the first photograph taken with a new telescope

The JWST was launched in December and will be replacing the Hubble Space Telescope which has been operational since 1990. Last week, the JWST’s first image was revealed. It has a wider wavelength coverage than Hubble and is capable of capturing images at a higher resolution.

This story can be shared on social media



Related Articles

Back to top button