Small space rock hits $10B James Webb Space Telescope

A small meteorite collided with the newly launched James Webb Space Telescope in May, deflecting one of its gold-plated mirrors, NASA said on Wednesday, but did not change the schedule. of the observatory to come into full operation.

The small space rock hit the $10 billion telescope in late May and left a small but noticeable effect in the telescope’s data, NASA said in a statement. know in a statement, noting that this is the fifth and largest fall to the telescope since it was launched in December.

“Following initial assessments, the team found that the telescope was still performing at a level that exceeded all mission requirements,” NASA said. “Through measurements and analysis are underway.”

Engineers have begun to re-adjust the impact mirror to help “remove some of the distortion” caused by the asteroid, NASA said.

A combination of images provided by NASA on May 9 shows part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, as seen by the retired Spitzer Space Telescope, left and the new James Webb Space Telescope. (NASA / JPL-Caltech / NASA / ESA / CSA / STScI / The Associated Press)

Webb perched itself in the Sun’s orbit about 1.6 million kilometers from Earth in January and is expected to capture the first full-color images of the universe in July.

“This recent collision does not change Webb’s operational schedule,” NASA said.

The most powerful space-based observatory

Webb’s mirror is designed to withstand the bombardment of dust-sized particles traveling at extremely high velocities through space, but the most recent collision was “larger than the model and beyond what’s expected to happen.” the team may have tested on the ground,” NASA said.

The space telescope, managed by NASA, is billed as the most powerful space observatory ever built, with a sensor and 18 gold-plated mirror segments working together to search for distant planets. as well as galaxies from the earliest stages of the universe.

Engineers have designed the telescope to withstand occasional impacts from small asteroids – tiny space rocks that move at lightning speed during meteor showers predicted near the moon’s location. Webb’s position in space.

NASA said last month’s asteroid was not from any meteor shower. The US space agency, calling the collision “an unavoidable event of chance”, said it has now convened a team of engineers to study how to avoid future impacts from space rocks. similar.

This telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA in partnership with the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.

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