The threat has not disappeared. NASA is forced to change the position of the Webb telescope in space
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Scientists decided to change the plan for observing space so that the main mirror of the telescope would not be damaged micrometeorite impacts.
4 months have passed since the official start of the Webb Space Telescope, but during this time and even before the start of its scientific activity, 14 micrometeorites have already crashed into the main mirror of the observatory. To avoid further collisions and, accordingly, damage to the telescope's huge 6.5-meter mirror, NASA decided to change the plan for observing space. To do this, safe zones were identified in which the telescope will be able to avoid impacts of space rocks that are critical for its operation, writes Space.
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The Webb telescope encountered the first significant damage to the main mirror back in May of this year. As Focus already wrote, even before the official start of his scientific activity, several tiny micrometeorites crashed into the telescope. This did not lead to malfunctions of the observatory.
In July of this year, as Focus already wrote, scientists also recorded new micrometeorites hitting the main mirror of the space telescope, which caused some damage to one of the segments of the mirror. But even after that, the observatory continued its work.
In general, scientists have recorded 14 collisions of the Webb telescope with space rocks for more than 4 months. According to Lee Feinberg of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, these micrometeorites have tremendous speed and at some point could cause critical damage to the observatory, which is located at a distance of 1.5 million km from us.
< img class="aligncenter" src="/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ugroza-ne-ischezla-nasa-vynuzhdeno-izmenit-polozhenie-teleskopa-uebba-v-kosmose-52fdae6.png" alt="Threat has not disappeared. NASA is forced to reposition the Webb telescope in space" />
When building the telescope, the engineers took into account the possibility that it would be hit by micrometeorites, but did everything possible that he could avoid them. But as practice has shown, it is very difficult to predict all possible options.
The Webb Telescope has a huge primary mirror that is less protected than the smaller, shielded mirror of the Hubble Space Telescope. If Webb had a smaller mirror and an additional protective shield, it would reduce his ability to observe very distant objects that are billions of light-years away, scientists say.
NASA scientists have determined safer zones in space where the Webb telescope can avoid meteorite critical hits. To do this, the telescope will change the position of the mirror and maneuver so that it is constantly in these safe zones.
Although this will make observing space a little more difficult, it will save the telescope from impacts. But on the other hand, NASA engineers decided that during certain periods, when the threat of micrometeor impacts is very low, the Webb telescope will work the same way as before to get the most out of space observations.
How already wrote Focus, recently the Webb telescope made an image of a special galaxy that does not interact with similar objects. This galaxy is located next to the Milky Way and is a witness to the early Universe.