James Webb Space Telescope Is Demaged By A Space Rock
Some of the most stunning images of deep space are already being captured by James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). It is more concerning than previously thought that a micrometeorite struck the JWST in May.
One mirror segment suffered damages that cannot be fully compensated, according to a paper. During commissioning, the space telescope performed well. The big mirror of Webb's observatory was struck about six times in May.
There was negligible damage in five strikes. According to the report, they will cause less than 1 nanometre of wavefront error.
The distortion caused by these strikes can therefore be corrected and wiped out from the final result. Mid-May's sixth strike, however, caused more severe damage to the telescope.
Micrometeorite impact between 22 - 24 May 2022 UT exceeded prelaunch expectations of damage, triggering further investigation and modeling by the JWST Project.
The report said
Each hexagonal segment makes up the face of the JWST. Starlight can be captured and exposed individually and finely adjusted.
Micrometeorite impact most severely damaged mirror segment C3. Research can minimize the negative impact by adjusting each mirror segment. There is no way to fully compensate the error.
As a result of the strike, the total wavefront error for the entire JWST mirror increased by around 5-10 nanometres after two subsequent realignments. Although higher than ideal, this is acceptable.
Micrometeorites can damage the JWST. Its construction explains this. Space is exposed to Webb's 6.5-metre segmented mirror, encased in Hubble's primary mirror.
However, researchers have taken into account the possibility of such strikes and their impact on JWST performance.