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Sunday, November 27, 2022

James Webb Telescope Damaged by Multiple Micrometeoroids

Asteroid strikes have irreparably damaged the James Webb Space Telescope, which had just offered the world with its most detailed vision of the cosmos. Since its December launch, the James Webb Space Telescope has been hit by at least 19 small space objects, according to Live Science.

One of the telescope’s 18 gold-plated mirrors sustained irreparable damage from a larger rock. NASA announced the meteoroid strike last month, stating that it had constructed the telescope to endure the rigors of space and was aware of the possibility of infrequent micrometeoroid strikes.

NASA Goddard’s Webb optical telescope element manager Lee Feinberg said, “With Webb’s mirrors exposed to space, we anticipated periodic micrometeoroid strikes would gradually decrease telescope performance.”

However, “the debris was larger than pre-launch modeling had anticipated,” and scientists are unsure of the long-term repercussions of the damage, according to Space. “Each micrometeoroid degraded the wavefront of the affected mirror segment, as assessed by routine wavefront sensing,” NASA stated.

NASA referred to the incident as a “unavoidable chance occurrence” and stated that they will utilize it to expand their “understanding of the solar system dust particle environment.”

According to Live Science, the U.S. Space Surveillance Network tracks over 23,000 pieces of orbital debris larger than a softball, but millions of smaller fragments pass undetected through space.

The first image from JWST was released last week at a White House ceremony with President Joe Biden and NASA officials, revealing never-before-seen vistas of the cosmos.

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