The James Webb Space Telescope has a problem with one of its 17 science observation modes. As NASA announced, on August 24, there was “apparently increased friction” in a mechanism that supports “medium-resolution spectroscopy” of the MIRI instrument.
It is a kind of grid wheel that makes it possible to switch between short, medium and long wavelengths during observations. Therefore, notes are currently suspended in MRS mode. In general, the space telescope is in good condition, and the remaining observational patterns are available.
It is not yet clear why the difficulties were not announced earlier, the “Anomaly Review Committee.” It is the current blog entry According to the meeting already on the 6th of September. We are currently studying the best way forward. The behavior will be further analyzed and various strategies will be developed to return to the feedback in the affected situation as soon as possible.
Using the MRS mode, spectroscopic analyzes can be performed in the mid-infrared wavelength range, where particles and dust leave very strong traces. According to NASA, the potential targets for this are the molecules in the protoplanetary disks.
Mission progress so far is almost perfect
The James Webb Space Telescope is operated by NASA, ESA, and CSA and was launched on December 25, 2021. After a complex procedure of self-detection, it reached the L2 Lagrange point a month later. Here he looks so far from the Sun, Earth and Moon into space that their heat radiation does not disturb the infrared telescope. A huge protective screen prevents them.
Except for an unexpectedly large small meteor impact, everything on the mission has gone almost perfectly so far. Even during the photo-perfect launch aboard the European Ariane 5, so much fuel was saved that the device would have to run for 20 years instead of the planned 5-10 years.
Since the space telescope began scientific work at the beginning of July, the quality of the data has not only affected the research community. The first recordings are currently being published live. The goal is for the scientific community to learn how to use the new observatory and its tools as much as possible. The result was indeed a number of recordings of particularly scientific value.
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