The space rock on the Webb telescope was just bad luck, the NASA team says

The space rock on the Webb telescope was just bad luck, the NASA team says

Artist's illustration of the Webb Telescope in space.

In late May, the Webb Space Telescope’s peaceful commissioning process was interrupted by an unusually large micrometeoroid impact on one of the $10 billion observatory’s mirrors. Now, a NASA-led analysis of the event shows the impact was a statistical anomaly and the telescope will be less susceptible to damage from space rocks in the futuree.

Micrometeoroids are fragments from fast-moving space debris. Most micrometeorite impacts on spacecraft are too small to be measured; according to a NASA announcementWebb averages one to two measurable hits per month.

A July report from the Space Telescope Science Institute found that the May impact caused noticeable damage to the telescope’s C3 segment, one of Webb’s 18 hexagonal mirrors. Despite the impact, the team’s assessment was that Webb “should meet its optical performance requirements for many years.”

“Even after this event, our current optical performance is still twice our requirements,” Mike Menzel, Webb’s lead systems engineer at NASA, said in a news release. exemption.

In other words, the impact didn’t affect the telescope’s ability to do its job: observe some of the oldest lights in the universe to better understand the first stars, etc.the evolution of galaxies. Webb even turned his infrared eye on us solar system neighborstock exchange.

At that time Webb the team’s main concern was whether the strike in May was representative of more hits to I’m coming or just bad luck. The new analysis, conducted by a group of experts from NASA, the telescope’s mirror manufacturer, and the Space Telescope Science Institute, shows the latter.

After the strike in MayNASA diverted Webb from the micrometeoroid avoidance zone to protect mirrors from the small space rocks. Some of the particles can spread at 22,000 miles per hourwhich means they can backfire if they hit a sensitive part of the telescope.

“Micrometeoroids that hit the mirror head (moving against the direction the telescope is moving) have twice the relative velocity and four times the kinetic energy, so avoiding that direction whenever possible will help extend the exquisite optical performance for decades,” said Lee Feinberg, Webb Optical Telescope Element Manager at NASA Goddard, in an agency exemption.

Webb will still be able to make observations in the direction of the avoidance zone, but it will to someone else time of year when Webb is at a different point in its orbit and thus less susceptible to damaging micrometeoroid impacts.

More: Webb telescope captures protostar’s stunning ‘hourglass’ in space

#space #rock #Webb #telescope #bad #luck #NASA #team

Related Articles

Back to top button