The $10 billion James Webb space telescope has been permanently damaged
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has been pelted by at least 19 small space rocks since it launched in December
The James Webb Space Telescope that just provided the world with the deepest-ever view of the universe has been permanently damaged by asteroid attacks.
Driving the news: According to Live Science, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has been pelted by at least 19 small space rocks since it launched in December.
- One larger rock has left irreversible damage on one of the telescope’s 18 gold-plated mirrors.
What they’re saying: NASA released the news about the meteoroid strike last month, saying it had built the telescope to withstand the toils of space and knew there would be occasional micrometeoroid strikes.
- Lee Feinberg, Webb optical telescope element manager at NASA Goddard, explained the team knew a strike was bound to happen at some point, saying, “With Webb’s mirrors exposed to space, we expected that occasional micrometeoroid impacts would gracefully degrade telescope performance over time.”
- However, “the debris was more sizeable than pre-launch modeling had accounted for” and scientists are unsure what long-term effects will come from the damage, Space reported.
- “Each micrometeoroid caused degradation in the wavefront of the impacted mirror segment, as measured during regular wavefront sensing,” said NASA, per Sky News.
- NASA called the incident an “unavoidable chance event” and says they will use it as an opportunity to increase their “knowledge of the solar system dust particle environment.”
Details: According to Live Science, “The U.S. Space Surveillance Network keeps track of more than 23,000 pieces of orbital debris measuring larger than the size of a softball,” but millions of smaller chunks go through space undetected.