NASA Says a Tiny Space Rock Has Impacted The James Webb Space Telescope
Far from Earth, in its new home, the James Webb Space Telescope may not be as lonely as it might imagine.
The part of the cosmos where the telescope is housed is not a complete vacuum, and indeed, the inevitable thing happened – one of the segments of the Web mirror collided with a crumbling rock debris, a micrometeorite.
However, there is no need to panic. The engineers who created the telescope were well aware of the harshness of the cosmos and designed the web so that it could fit.
“We always knew that the Web would have to deal with the cosmic environment, which includes fierce ultraviolet light and charged particles from the sun, cosmic rays from the galaxy’s exotic sources, and accidental strikes by micrometeoroids in the solar system,” said Paul Gait, one of the project leaders.
According to him, the web has been designed and built in optical thermal, electrical and mechanical terms that is guaranteed to fulfill an ambitious scientific mission for many years to come.
The web is located 1.5 million kilometers from Earth in a region called the second point of Lagrange (L2).
In this region, the gravitational interaction between two bodies moving in orbit (in this case, the earth and the sun) is balanced by the centripetal force of the orbit to create a stable “pocket” where low-mass objects can be “parked” for fuel economy.
It is very useful for science, but these regions also attract other subjects.
Jupiter, for example, has clusters of asteroids moving in its own orbit at two points in common Lagrangian with the Sun. Asteroids have other planets at Lagrange points, but fewer than Jupiter.
It is unknown exactly how much dust L2 attracts, but it would be foolish to think that there is no dust at all in these regions.
Therefore, the web was specially designed to be able to bombard with extremely high speed moving dust-sized particles. Not only simulations were used in its design, but engineers also conducted test shots on mirrors to understand what the effects of the cosmic environment might have been and, as a result, to try to mitigate them.
Launches, James Webb Space Telescope to Observe Two Intriguing Super-Earths Nearby – # 1tv
Similar: Upon launch, the James Webb Space Telescope …
Shots can move mirror segments, but the telescope has sensors that correct the positions of the mirror.
In addition, correction orders can be sent to the mission control center from Earth to return the mirrors to their original positions. Moreover, the mirrors can even be turned to prevent the famous meteor showers from falling in advance.
And yet, the web is designed with large margins of error so that the expected physical degradation over time does not complete the mission prematurely.
The location of the web is much better than that of the hub moving in Earth’s low orbit, which has been repeatedly hit by micrometeorites and is constantly being bombarded from space debris.
However, unlike Hubble, the web is far away from Earth and it is impossible to visit it physically to repair it. The last such mission to Hubble was in 2009.
The micrometeoroid collided with the Web between May 23-25 and was a random event. The collision turned out to be bigger than expected, allowing a better study of the L2 region environment, hence the chance to find a strategy that would protect the telescope in the future.
“Because web mirrors are exposed to space, we expect random micrometeorological impacts to make the telescope work worse over time,” said Lee Feinberg, head of web optics.
He said after the launch, Webb was hit by four small, expected-scale micrometeorologists, but the last collision turned out to be bigger than they had predicted.
NASA shows the first full-length and spectroscopic images of the James Webb Space Telescope on July 12, 2022.