A small piece of rock smashed into the main mirror of the new James Webb Space Telescope. damage caused by A small meteor the size of a speck of dust It has a noticeable effect on the instrument data, but Scientists do not expect this to limit the overall performance of the task.
James Webb was launched in December 2021 to replace the revolutionary – but obsolete – Hubble Space Telescope.
Astronomers are expected to release the first images of the universe that day July 12. The US space agency (NASA) said that these images will be no less impressive because of the accident.
The collision appears to have occurred, according to astronomers, sometime between May 23 and 25. The analysis indicates that the mirror piece known as C3 – one of the 18 tiles of gold beryllium that make up the primary reflector of the 6.5-meter-wide telescope – was affected by these tiny, rocky particles.
The speed at which objects move through space means that even the smallest particle can release a lot of energy when colliding with another object. Webb was injured five times, the last of which was the most significant.
Webb has an open design: his mirrors aren’t shielded by the kind of tubular aberration seen in other space telescopes, such as the Hubble. Instead, reflectors sit behind giant sunscreens that allow them to maintain the cool, constant temperatures needed to detect infrared light.
It was expected to be hit by micrometeorites and emergency situations were incorporated into the selection of materials.different components and operating modes of the telescope.
“We always knew Webb would have to endure the space environment, which includes harsh ultraviolet light and charged particles from the Sun, cosmic rays from external sources in the galaxy, and the impacts of micro-meteorites from our Solar System,” said Paul Geithner, Vice President. Technical design director for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
“We designed and built Webb with a margin of performance – optical, thermal, electrical and mechanical – to ensure that he can achieve his ambitious scientific mission even after many years in space.”
The structure of the telescope – Image: BBC
Engineers will adjust the position of the affected mirror clip to cancel out some of the resulting distortion, but they won’t be able to remove it completely. Webb is currently collecting observations of the universe, near and far, to prove he can.
Astronomers will present these images to the world in July 2022. In the longer term, scientists plan to use Webb to try to see the first stars that lit up the universe more than 13.5 billion years ago.
They will also train the telescope’s large “eyes” on the atmospheres of distant planets to see if these worlds can be habitable.
(video: UFSM scientists will monitor images from the James Webb Telescope, launched by NASA.)
UFSM scientists will monitor images from the James Webb Telescope, launched by NASA
“Entrepreneur. Music enthusiast. Lifelong communicator. General coffee aficionado. Internet scholar.”