Four small meteorites hit the James Webb telescope

Fortunately, NASA points out that there are no major risks in the scientific mission of the James Webb .


The James Webb Space Telescope has suffered its first major problem after being hit by up to four small meteorites.

According to NASA , micrometeoroids collided with the spacecraft during its deployment towards the L2 Lagrange point in space . Fortunately, none have had greater scope in the mission.

Danger on the James Webb

The most serious of the impacts occurred between May 23 and 25 and affected segment C3 of the 18-piece gold-plated hexagonal primary mirror, according to the statement.

“With James Webb ‘s mirrors exposed to space, we expected that occasional micrometeorite impacts would gracefully degrade the telescope’s performance over time,” Lee Feinberg, Webb Optical Telescope Element Manager at the Space Flight Center, said in the statement. NASA Goddard in Maryland. “Since launch, we’ve had four smaller measurable micrometeorite impacts that were consistent with expectations, and this most recent one is larger than our degradation predictions assumed.”

All spacecraft are expected to experience and be designed to withstand micrometeorite impacts, and the James Webb is no different . Observatory engineers even subjected mirror samples to actual impacts to understand how such events might affect mission science.

However, the recent impact was greater than what mission staff had modeled or could test on the ground, according to the statement.

but everything continues

Even though the impact came so early in the observatory’s mandate, NASA officials are confident the $10 billion telescope will continue to function properly.

“We designed and built James Webb with performance headroom (optical, thermal, electrical, mechanical) to ensure it can perform its ambitious science mission even after many years in space,” said Paul Geithner, NASA Goddard deputy technical project manager. .

After an impact occurs, engineers can individually adjust the 18 segments of the primary mirror at the observatory to keep the mirror as a whole precisely tuned.