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NASA Reviewing Friction Issue on JWST Observing Module

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NASA Reviewing Friction Issue on JWST Observing Module

NASA is studying an issue with an instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope that was first discovered on Aug. 24.

NASA said in an announcement on Tuesday that one of the four observing modules on JWST’s Mid-Infrared Instrument is experiencing increased friction. The problem affects medium-resolution spectroscopy observations.

A team was assembled to investigate the issue, SpaceNews reported Thursday.

Despite the issue on the component, JWST’s imaging, low-resolution spectroscopy and coronagraphy are not affected and are still continuing.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA, said during the International Astronautical Congress on Wednesday that the decision to review the issue is done to ensure that the component works well. Eric Smith, a JWST program scientist at NASA, shared in a press conference following the event that engineers do not expect the issue to cause any long-term problems, but they want to understand what is causing friction within the component.

Smith also mentioned that the telescope is experiencing micrometeoroid hits on its mirror as expected, but one of the impacts was larger than expected. The scientist stated that JWST is expected to get hit with one large micrometeoroid per year.

Despite the friction issue, the telescope was able to accomplish significant feats. On Sept. 1, JWST was able to use its imaging equipment to take a photo of an exoplanet in different light filters.

Before the anomaly was identified, JWST was able to take a picture of Jupiter that shows its red spot, other storms and auroras.

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Category: Space