NASA has reported a problem with the most sensitive instrument of the telescope “James Webb”

NASA has reported a problem with the most sensitive instrument of the telescope “James Webb”
NASA has reported a problem with the most sensitive instrument of the telescope “James Webb”

NASA has published a report stating that there are problems with the James Webb telescope’s scientific instrument, the Mid-Infrared Camera (MIRI). This is the most sensitive instrument of the space telescope, which is the only one on board that is forced to cool.

Wheel with MIRI camera and spectrometer filters. Image Source: NASA

During preparations for observations on August 24, the wheel with filters of the MIRI camera “experienced increased friction”. To find ways to stop the anomaly, NASA convened a scientific council on September 6. The camera itself and other scientific instruments of the telescope, as well as its onboard equipment, are working normally.

As for the problem node, this is a wheel with a set of filters. Depending on the choice of filter, the light passing through the field of view of the MRS spectrometer and the MIRI camera (both devices are in the same optical channel) is filtered by wavelengths from short to long. The problem is noted on the spectrograph, while the camera works without deviations. The spectrometer allows you to learn about the objects in the field of view such details as the chemical composition and allows you to draw a conclusion about a number of observed physical phenomena. For example, medium-resolution spectroscopy (MRS) makes it possible to look for signs of life in the atmospheres of exoplanets.

The MIRI assembly, which includes the spectrometer and filter wheel, is forcibly cooled to 7 K, just a few degrees above the temperature to which matter can be cooled. Thanks to this node, the James Webb telescope has become much more sensitive and takes sharper images of distant objects. Let’s hope that NASA experts will develop an algorithm for the best use of the device in the current conditions.

We also recall that the telescope received damage to one of the segments of the main mirror from a micrometeorite hit. It was not possible to fully compensate for the damage, although it is not critical. But if the MIRI filter assembly fails, then we will lose many revolutionary scientific discoveries. Telescope components are not subject to repair. It is located at a distance of 1.5 million km from the Earth. There are no modern means of delivering astronauts to such distances.

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The article is in Russian

Tags: NASA reported problem sensitive instrument telescope James Webb

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