NASA’s $10 Billion Space Telescope Hit By Micro Meteoroid

Last month, the $10 billion space telescope made by NASA, the JWST, was hit by a micro meteoroid, but it’s still operational and will release full-color photos of outer space on July 12 without any delay.

NASA's $10 Billion Space Telescope Hit By Micro-Meteoroid 1

A small meteoroid damaged NASA’s $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), striking one of the spacecraft’s 18 hexagonal gold-coated mirrors.

According to NASA, a dust-sized micrometeoroid struck JWST’s C3 mirror segment, one of the 18 beryllium-gold tiles that make up the telescope’s 6.5-meter wide primary reflector, between May 23 and 25. The shield functions as a reflector, allowing the world’s most sensitive infrared sensor to record images of stars and galaxies. In late December, JWST was launched into space.

NASA's $10 Billion Space Telescope Hit By Micro-Meteoroid 2

Fortunately, engineers anticipated JWST colliding with space debris, though the most recent event is concerning.

“Since launch, we have had four smaller measurable micrometeoroid strikes that were consistent with expectations and this one more recently that is larger than our degradation predictions assumed. We will use this flight data to update our analysis of performance over time and also develop operational approaches to assure we maximize the imaging performance of Webb to the best extent possible for many years to come,” Lee Feinberg, Webb optical telescope element manager at NASA Goddard, said. 

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The good news is that the telescope is still operational:

“After initial assessments, the team found the telescope is still performing at a level that exceeds all mission requirements despite a marginally detectable effect in the data,” NASA said. “Thorough analysis and measurements are ongoing.”

JWST’s scheduled first release of full-color photos of outer space on July 12 will not be delayed.

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  1. More fictional tales brought to you by NASA. Just think… Without CGI they’d have nothing to show for it!

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