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  • Chris Bratton - Tech Journalist

The James Webb Space Telescope's main mirror hit by a meteoroid: How has this impacted exploration?

The James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror got hit by a meteoroid: What does it mean for deep space exploration?

The James Webb Space Telescope is one of the most advanced pieces of modern tech that is bound to collect space-time data beyond imagination. The Space telescope is made in a certain way to live in outer space without human intervention with resistance to a certain extent from outside objects. Mirrors and sensors on the Webb telescope are sensitive, and the observatory is going through a tough time before starting its operation.

AT 1400 EST (1900 UTC) on Monday, NASA's newest space observatory reached its destination. A million miles away from planet earth, in the L2 orbit, the James Webb started its unfolding process. Sometime around the end of May, the space telescope got hit by a meteoroid on its primary mirror. NASA blogs shared interesting insights on how they are handling the situations.

JWST can handle itself and calibrate automatically as further help is provided from the control centre. Smaller meteoroids are part of the space journey as there are countless obstacles to tackle. Exposed ultraviolet from the sun, reflective layer keeping the mechanical components cold, calibrating in real-time, and mainlining itself to such an extent, the journey of discovery becomes possible. Nasa said, "micrometeoroid strikes are an unavoidable aspect of operating any spacecraft, which routinely sustain many impacts throughout long and productive science missions in space." JWST substantiated impact between May 23 and 25, where primary mirror segments were affected.

The space observatory board said the telescope is continuously performing at higher-than-expected levels. Since its launch in January, JWST has been hit on four occasions. But the space telescope's nature to stay in a compact space before unfolding at the L2 orbit gave it much edge. It went to its destination on time, dodging much of its worst enemies, meteoroids.

In the meantime, after 32 years of operation, the Hubble telescope captured the most detailed view of space while orbiting around planet Earth. The Hubble telescope typically captures a single image every 90 minutes. This is the time it takes for its rotation around Earth. The Dash technique captures 8 photos to capture a panoramic view of the star system and puts its 3 gyroscopes in a tired state. The Hubble will still be operational and capture footage, but the most demanding capturing methods will be forwarded to JWST once it becomes operational. Scientists and researchers are saying they will start receiving images from JWST on July 12. They are getting better than anticipated results during the calibration phase of JWST.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson congratulated the team "for their hard work ensuring Webb's safe arrival at L2." The 10-billion-dollar project to unveil the most distant part of our space is not friction anymore. Even though the vastness of space, galaxies, and black holes, are too enormous for us to use in calculated data. In a statement, Bill Ochs, JWST project manager at Goddard Space Flight Center, said, "JWST has achieved amazing success and is a tribute to all the folks who spent many years and even decades to ensure mission success."

Webb's capability to sense and adjust the positions of its mirrors enables corrective options before we start taking in results. Even the tiniest microscopic scratch or dent can diversify the results we expected from JWST. But as the control centre said, it is nothing to worry about, and the population excited to hear innovations were much relieved.

More protective elements are set in the JWST that can intentionally turn the optics away from known meteor shows before they are set to occur. This kind of facility will ensure the long-lasting serving time of JWST.


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