August 14, 2022

Meteor impact causes ‘significant irreparable’ damage to James Webb Space Telescope | Science & Technology News

A meteorite hit the James Webb Space Telescope, causing “significant irreparable” damage to one of the panels it uses to peer into deep space, NASA said.

The observatory, which was launched last December, was recently unveiled A complete set of new observationsincluding what is said to be the “deepest” and most comprehensive picture of the universe to date.

Like any spacecraft, it encountered micrometeoroids and its sensors detected six cracks in the telescope’s primary glass panels that were attributed to the strikes.

“Each micrometeroid caused distortion in the wavefront of the affected glass section, measured during conventional wavefront sensing,” he said. NASA.

Some of these distortions are corrected by adjusting the math that NASA applies to the data each team collects, according to a commission paper released last week.

However one strike – which occurred between May 22 and 24 – was caused by a large micrometeoroid and caused “significant irreparable alteration” of the C3 segment, according to the document.

Fortunately, this change doesn’t particularly affect how the telescope works — and NASA said its performance has exceeded expectations — but it does fundamentally reduce the accuracy of the data collected.

However, the strike has raised some concerns about the potential impact of future strikes on these large micrometroids.

“It is not yet clear whether the May 2022 C3 category win is a rare event,” the document said.

The NASA team considers it an “unfortunate early strike by a high kinetic energy micrometeoroid that statistically only happens once every few years.”

But “the telescope is more likely to be damaged by micrometeoroids than early missile modeling predicted”.

A white dot shows damage to the panel

“The project team is conducting additional investigations into the micrometeoroid population [and] How impacts affect beryllium glasses,” it added.

Another possible method of mitigating strikes involves reducing the amount of time JWST spends “looking in the direction of orbital motion with statistically higher micrometeoroid rates and energies.”

Growing orbital debris continues to challenge the International Space Station’s controllers Take “evasive maneuvers.” To avoid getting hit.

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The Southern Ring Nebula captured by the James Webb Telescope

NASA currently tracks more than 27,000 pieces of space debris, though it says there is more debris — too small to track but still large enough to threaten human spaceflight and robotic missions.

NASA said: “There are half a million pieces of debris the size of a marble or larger (up to 0.4 inches or 1 cm), and about 100 million pieces of debris about .04 inches (or 1 mm) and larger.”

“Still, there is debris as small as micrometers (0.000039 inches in diameter),” it added, and all of them can pose a hazard.

NASA said that “even a small amount of paint can damage a spacecraft” while traveling at 17,500 mph — fast enough to fly from London to New York in 12 minutes.