The designing, launching, and deployment of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope was widely celebrated by every lover of the universe across the globe. As we wait patiently for the magnificent images from the most sophisticated space telescope of our time, NASA has just received a bad signal from the telescope.
The signal enabled scientists to learn that a Micrometeoroid had struck NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope between May 23 and May 25. The gigantic space telescope sustained the impact on one of its primary mirror segments.
NASA Scientists were so determined to learn more about the impact caused by the Micrometeoroid Impact. After making several assessments, the team of scientists learned that the Space Telescope is still operating perfectly and meeting the entire mission requirements.
However, the impact caused the telescope to experience marginally detectable effects on its data. So NASA’s Scientists are confident that the impact sustained by the telescope will not stop it from meeting the mission requirements in the future.
On June 8, 2022, NASA officially announced in its blogpost that the late May 2022 micrometeoroid strike affected one of the primary mirror segments of the powerful James Webb Space Telescope. However, there is actually no plan to replace the affected mirror as the impact was not severe enough to affect the goals of Webb’s mission.
Why NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope was Designed to Withstand Micrometeoroid Impact
Even before the engineers and Scientists began to build the James Webb Space Telescope, they clearly understood the devastating nature of micrometeoroids in space. In fact, Micrometeoroid and Asteroids collision is common in space.
These objects travel at certain velocities to reach another destination. So Scientists are aware of the possibilities of micrometeoroid collision with our Technologies in space. So during the engineering design of the JWST, the engineers built the space telescope with materials that can withstand asteroid or micrometeoroid impact in space.
After the James Webb Space Telescope was carefully deployed in an orbit around Sun and Earth Lagrange point L2, Scientists have been watching out for possible bombardment of micrometeoroids with the gigantic telescope. Keep in mind that JWST was deployed in the L2 point between earth and the sun because of stability within that region.
But despite the stability within the L2 region, micrometeoroids still exist and move around this point. In fact, these dust particles of different sizes travel at extremely high velocities that can create a devastating impact on any object they collide with.
However, Scientists that built the JWST were already aware of these Micrometeoroid impacts. So the JWST mirrors were designed to survive bombardment from any flying space dust. Despite the sophisticated designs of Webb’s mirrors, this latest impact was bigger than what Scientists were expecting.
In fact, the collision was more than what the team of Scientists could have tested during the design of JWST. So this is why the impact was largely recognized among Scientists. Despite the level of the impact, JWST has continued to function perfectly, and we are still expecting our first images from the telescope anytime soon.
How Scientists are Protecting the James Webb Space Telescope in Space
As JWST continues to orbit the L2 point between earth and the sun, Scientists are still working tirelessly to protect the gigantic space telescope in orbit. The flight team often deploys protective maneuvers to purposely move the telescope away from identified meteor showers even before they occur.
However, the recent impact was not caused by meteor showers. Scientists referred to this recent hit as an unavoidable chance event. After the impact, a team of scientists came together to create plans that will protect JWST from future micrometeoroid impacts. Scientists have continued to use NASA’s data to predict micrometeoroids.
They have relied so much on wishing this was provided to prevent Micrometeoroid collision with our space Technologies. As Scientists continue to review the possible cause of this unavoidable chance event, they will likely come up with solutions that will protect future impacts of our space technologies in the future.
Despite the devastating impact caused by the Micrometeoroid on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the gigantic telescope is still meeting up with the mission requirements. Scientists are already working on ways to protect the telescope from such a devastating impact in the future.