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NASA Investigating Sensor Issues with James Webb Space Telescope’s Mid-Infrared Instrument

The James Webb Space Telescope is facing sensor issues with one of its key instruments, the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), but NASA officials are investigating the cause and continuing with their observations

James Webb

One of the key instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope is facing some issues with its sensors. Specifically, one of the modes of the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) is not receiving the expected amount of light at the longest wavelengths. NASA officials are currently investigating the cause of this problem.

However, there is no need for alarm as NASA has confirmed that there is no risk to the instrument and all other observation modes within MIRI and the other scientific instruments on the Webb remain unaffected. The NASA team has reassured the public that they are developing a plan to systematically analyze and explore the issue. The Webb team will continue with their MIRI observations as planned.

MIRI has both a camera and a spectrograph, which allows it to detect light from distant objects like galaxies, comets, and young stars. It can also image faint objects in our own solar system, such as bodies in the Kuiper Belt. This glitch with MIRI’s Medium Resolution Spectrometer is not the first one; previously, the instrument had a stuck grating wheel that was fixed in a few months.

Although the investigation is ongoing, NASA has suggested that they could potentially overcome the issue by taking slightly longer exposures at the affected wavelengths to obtain clearer imaging, if necessary.

Despite this glitch, the $10 billion Webb has been mostly operational since its launch on December 25, 2021. It currently operates in a gravitationally stable location known as Lagrange point 2, nearly 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) away from Earth. The telescope has already captured breathtaking images in its near-year of full science operations, including an incredible picture of Uranus just weeks ago.

The Webb telescope is expected to operate for at least 20 years in space, making it a valuable asset for studying the universe. NASA’s commitment to investigating and resolving the issue with MIRI shows their dedication to ensuring the continued success of the mission.

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