He announced that NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which costs 10 billion dollars, has malfunctioned in an important tool due to a problem whose source has not yet been determined.
A key instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or Webb) is facing sensor problems. NASA has found that a mode of the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) on the JWST achieves low sensor “efficiency” at the longest wavelengths. This issue causes MIRI to receive less light than expected, while NASA officials are investigating the cause of the malfunction.
James Webb Space Telescope Malfunctioned
MIRI has both a camera and a spectrograph (a device that can divide light into different wavelengths) to detect light from distant objects such as galaxies, comets or young stars. NASA reported that it discovered a data inconsistency during its regular system checks and that the problem was experienced in MIRI’s Medium Resolution Spectroscopy (MRS) mode. It was also underlined that the problem did not pose any risk to the telescope or to other observation modes within MIRI. On the other hand, for a few months between August and November 2022, another problem specific to MIRI was experienced and resolved.
As NASA continues to investigate what went wrong with MIRI this time around, Webb says in a statement that his team can overcome the problem if needed “by taking slightly longer exposures at the affected wavelengths” for clearer imaging. In addition, the agency said, “NASA and its partners are developing a systematic plan to approach, analyze, and then investigate the issue. The Webb team will continue their MIRI observations as planned.” The $10 billion Webb has been doing wonders since launching on December 25, 2021. It is thought that the telescope, which is about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, can work for at least 20 years.