A Micrometeorite Hit James Webb Telescope's Primary Mirror

Abdul Ghani

It's not the first time a micrometeorite has hit the James Webb telescope. NASA expected it: An object has struck and damaged the mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). However, the mission should not be endangered.

James Webb Space Telescope: readjustment of the mirror segment hit.NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez

The US space agency National Aeronautics And Space Administration (NASA) announced that between May 23 and 25 a micrometeorite had hit a segment of the primary mirror. Micrometeorites are small particles in space, ranging in size from a few hundred micrometers to a few millimeters.

The team on Earth is analyzing the damage. According to initial findings, however, JWST still works at a level that exceeds all mission requirements. The mirror segment hit should be readjusted in order to compensate for the distortion caused.

It wasn't the first hit

NASA had expected hits by micrometeorites anyway. It wasn't the first either: There have been four smaller ones, said Lee Feinberg, head of JWST's optical telescope. This was the first "that was larger than assumed in our predictions."

"We have always known that Webb must brave the space environment, which includes hard ultraviolet light and charged particles from the Sun, cosmic rays from exotic sources in the galaxy, and occasional micrometeorite impacts in our solar system," said Paul Geithner, deputy technical project leader of the JWST. "We designed and built Webb with a range of performance - optical, thermal, electrical, mechanical - to ensure that it can continue to fulfill its ambitious scientific mission even after many years in space."

After many delays, JWST was launched at the end of December 2021. About a month later, it reached its position at the second Lagrange point (L2), almost 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. In mid-February, NASA began mirror alignment. A month later, the 18 mirrors were aligned to work as a single mirror.

The JWST takes pictures in the infrared range and should, among other things, provide insights into the past of the universe. Stars and galaxies that are particularly far away radiate in this long-wave spectrum because their white light has been stretched by space-time expansion. The light is reflected by a 6.5-meter mirror with a gold-plated surface. The JWST can thus examine wavelengths in the range from 0.6 to 28 micrometers.

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Member Of Freelancers Union (USA), Freelance Writer!, and Digital Creator. Ghani Mengal is an enthusiast Freelance blogger and digital marketer. His content has been published and featured on many popular blogs, websites, and publications. Including TeelFeed, LifeHack.org, Data-Driven Investor, TextSniper, Scientific Publication The Predict, The Startup, The Ascent, Heart Affairs, Illumination, And The List goes on.


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