NASA Says The James Webb Telescope Was Hit by a Micrometeorite

The James Webb Space Telescope is the largest and most powerful one NASA has ever launched, and it has already suffered massive damage from a larger micrometeorite strike that occurred in May. The telescope was built in collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency and is made of precious technology. It also carries the largest mirror ever attached to a space telescope that is meant to allow it to observe events in space that were previously inaccessible to humanity.

NASA Planned for tThe James Webb to Be Hit by Micrometeorites

NASA Says The James Webb Telescope Was Hit by a Larger Micrometeorite

In order for the James Webb Space Telescope to fulfill its mission, NASA, ESA, and CSA have ensured it will be able to remain operational for years to come. However, concerns were raised over the longevity of the telescope when it was determined that in May 2022, it was hit by a micrometeorite that was larger than most. Fortunately, the operations of the telescope were not affected in a big way, but scientists believe the long-term effects of other such impacts over time make it unpredictable to determine how long it will remain operational.

Because the James Webb is in deep space at one of the stable Lagrange points, any problems that arise due to damage cannot be fixed. This means that the lifetime of the telescope depends on the number of micrometeoroid impacts and the way they degrade the primary mirror.

NASA Says, so far, TJWST Has Been Struck by Micrometeorites Six Times

According to NASA, since its launch, the Telescope has been struck by six micrometeorites. While the first five collisions were with very small micrometeorites that leave a negligible amount of damage, the sixth one caused comparatively more serious damage. According to scientists, it hit segment C3 between the 22nd and 24th of May this year and caused a significant irreparable change in the figure of the segment. Again, according to scientists, the damage to the panel will not impact the telescope’s image-taking abilities at all.

Charged Particles Will Also Degrade the Capability of TJWST Over Time

The scientists at NASA also expect that the telescope’s detectors will be gradually damaged by charged particles that are all over space. While the sun-shield and innovative five-layer insulation will protect the James Webb from space weathering for a long time, its mirror will be exposed to space and will face both charged particles and micrometeoroid strikes head-on.

The nearly 10$ billion space telescope was launched after decades of development on Christmas Day in 2021, and earlier this month, NASA revealed the first images that it captured – stunning viewers from all around the universe.