No need to panic? James Webb Space Telescope experiences micrometeoroid impact for first time
Space is a dangerous place. Anything can happen anytime. The recent incident with James Webb Space Telescope seems to have proved this. In only a few months after launch, the new space observatory of NASA has experienced its first noticeable micrometeoroid impact, media reports said. But the agency seems to be unfazed. On Wednesday (June 8), NASA announced that the next-generation observatory sustained some impact from small pieces of space debris for the first time. There is nothing to worry, the agency said, while adding that it will not impact the $10 billion observatory's schedule and scientific legacy.
In the statement, Lee Feinberg, Webb optical telescope element manager, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said, "With Webb's mirrors exposed to space, we expected that occasional micrometeoroid impacts would gracefully degrade telescope performance over time. 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."
Between May 23 and 25, the major impacts happened. The C3 segment of the 18-piece gold-plated hexagonal primary mirror of the telescope has been affected, the statement said.
The telescope will still perform properly, NASA said. Paul Geithner, technical deputy project manager, NASA Goddard, said, "We always knew that Webb would have to weather the space environment, which includes harsh ultraviolet light and charged particles from the sun, cosmic rays from exotic sources in the galaxy, and occasional strikes by micrometeoroids within our solar system. We designed and built Webb with performance margin — optical, thermal, electrical, mechanical — to ensure it can perform its ambitious science mission even after many years in space."