Just weeks before the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope were set to be released, a micrometeoroid strike hit the telescope.
The $10 billion telescope, which is said to help astronomers peer further into the universe than ever before, wasn’t significantly affected by the micrometeoroid strike, and is still expected to capture light emitted more than 13 billion years ago, possibly from the beginning of time.
But not all is perfect, as NASA shared it is still analyzing a direct hit from a micrometeorite on one of the telescope’s mirrors.
NASA had announced last week that the first photos showing off the true capabilities of the telescope would be released on July 12th, less than seven months after it was launched.
The news was shared on the James Webb Space Telescope blog, where NASA updates the public on any information about the telescope.
“Between May 23 and 25, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope sustained an impact to one of its primary mirror segments,” the blog said. “After initial assessments, the team found the telescope is still performing at a level that exceeds all mission requirements despite a marginally detectable effect in the data.”
The telescope isn’t completely helpless against the projectiles of space, as NASA shared that the 18 segments of the mirror on Webb can be individually changed if needed.
“By adjusting the position of the affected segment, engineers can cancel out a portion of the distortion … although not all of the degradation can be canceled out this way,” the NASA blog stated. “Engineers have already performed a first such adjustment for the recently affected segment … and additional planned mirror adjustments will continue to fine-tune this correction.”
As for how big the micrometeoroid that collided with the mirror was, NASA shared it does not know, though it couldn’t have been bigger than a grain of sand.