THE JAMES Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA's most expensive ($10 Billion) and powerful telescope ever made, has suffered damage after being smashed by a space rock.
A new report has warned the James Webb Telescope’s primary mirror may have suffered more damage than previously thought after a micro meteorite collided into it.
NASA scientists are thrilled by the possibilities the JWST holds, as it could help solve some of the universe’s deepest mysteries.
The micrometeoroid strikes on James Webb’s big mirror had resulted in negligible damage.
Unfortunately, the one strike in mid-May from a micro meteoroid left the expensive telescope with permanent damage. Micro meteoroids are tiny space rocks, usually weighing less than a gram.
Despite its negligible size, the further strikes from such space rocks could pose a threat to the longevity of the observatory. The mirrors and sunshield are expected to slowly degrade from micro meteoroid impacts.
The detectors are expected to experience cumulative slow damage from charged particles; the sunshield and multilayer insulation will degrade from space weathering.
At present, the largest source of uncertainty is the long-term effects of micro meteoroid impacts that slowly degrade the primary mirror.
The James Webb telescope uses a 6.5-metre diameter segmented mirror to collect light and focus on scientific instruments, which is exposed to space.
Scientists have noted that given Webb’s orbit around Lagrangian point 2 about one million miles from Earth, the observatory will only face potentially hazardous micrometeoroids about once per month.
During the commissioning period from late January into June, the primary mirror was struck by tiny space rocks six times, while the NASA team on the ground was calibrating and aligning the telescope.
Out of those impacts, five did minimal damage to the primary mirror, and the researchers will be able to adjust the calculations to account for the impact.