NASA’s next-generation space observatory has retained its first visible micrometeoroid impact less than six months after launch, but the agency is mainly indifferent.
The James Webb Space Telescope, also known as the Webb or JWST, was launched on December 25, 2021. It has spent countless months emerging from its deepest recesses and preparing for scientific observation, a complex process that has moved remarkably smoothly; Recently, NASA said it expects to unveil the first scientific quality images from the telescope on July 12.
The agency announced (opens a new tab) on Wednesday (June 8) that the viewing site had met its first impact from tiny particles of atmospheric debris called micrometeoroids. But do not panic: It is not expected that the institution’s system or scientific heritage will be disrupted.
“As Webb’s mirrors were exposed to the atmosphere, we anticipated that occasional micrometeoroid collisions would slow down the performance of the telescope over time,” Lee Feinberg, head of Webb optical telescope element at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in a statement. “Since the launch, we have had four micrometeoroid strikes that were in line with our expectations, and this has recently been much larger than we predicted our decline.”