NASA investigates James Webb Space Telescope instrument problem

One of the instruments of the James Webb Space Telescope has encountered a technical problem. The next-generation telescope has been operating at a breakneck pace, returning jaw-dropping science observations from exoplanetsgalaxies and even our local planets. The anomaly is a speed bump in Webb’s work, removing a specific mode of observation.

The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) is equipped with a camera and spectrograph designed to observe the universe in certain infrared wavelengths that we cannot see. MIRI is good at observing the star forming regions of galaxies.

MIRI uses four observation modes. “On August 24, a mechanism supporting one of these modes, known as moderate resolution spectroscopy (MRS), showed what appears to be an increase in friction when setting up a scientific observation “, said NASA.

The mechanism that ran into the problem is used to select between different wavelengths when Webb makes observations in MRS mode. The telescope team convened a review board on Sept. 6 to look into the issue and determine how to move forward. NASA said the telescope is in good health and MIRI’s other three observing modes are operating normally.

Webb has already withstood a previous incident when a micrometeorite struck by one of its mirrors. The much older Hubble Space Telescope survived a strewn with technical problems during its long life in space. Challenges are pretty much unavoidable, so it’s good news that most of Webb is performing as expected.

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