Asteroid hit permanently damaged NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope: Report

Asteroid hit permanently damaged NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope: Report

Although the first images taken by NASA’s space telescope James Webb – the world’s largest and most powerful of its kind – have astonished the world, scientists say the device was permanently damaged by a series of asteroid attacks in May.

According to a newly published article, a group of researchers said that after outlining James Webb’s performance during the commissioning phase, the telescope reported problems that “could not be corrected”. They added that the telescope also had a “small effect all the way, which is not yet measurable”.

“Currently, the biggest source of uncertainty is the long-term effects of micrometeoroid impacts that slowly break down the primary mirror,” the researchers said in the report.

On May 22, the primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope was hit by six micrometeorites. Of these, the sixth strike caused significant damage. Initially, it was not considered too large, but now the new paper from researchers suggests that it may be more serious than expected.

The impact “exceeded expectations before the launch of damage to a single micrometeoroid that triggered further investigations and modeling,” the report further states.

Read also | Explained: How James Webb Telescopic Images Change the Understanding of the Universe

Although the damage did not compromise the resolution of the primary mirror of the space telescope, engineers who designed Webb believe that the mirrors and the sun visor will inevitably slowly degrade from micrometeoroid impacts, the newspaper said.

One possible solution could be to minimize the time spent looking in the direction of orbital motion that statistically has higher micrometeoroid velocities and energies, the newspaper further states.

In June, following the asteroid attack, Nasa issued a statement saying that Webbs’ mirrors were “designed to withstand the bombardment of the micrometeoroid environment in its orbit around the Sun-Earth L2 by dusty particles flying at extreme speeds”.

“While the telescope was being built, engineers used a mix of simulations and actual test effects on mirror samples to get a clearer idea of ​​how the observatory should be fortified for orbit operation. This last effect was greater than it was modeled, and beyond what the team could have tested. on the ground, Nasa said.

The James Webb Space Telescope was built by Nasa in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) at a cost of 10 billion dollars.

Webb, which consists of one of the largest mirrors on a space telescope, was launched on December 25, 2021, and has since February orbited the L2 point – almost a million miles, or 1.6 million kilometers, from Earth.

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