Why does the hard disk of the James Webb telescope have such a small storage capacity?

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Why does the hard disk of the James Webb telescope have such a small storage capacity?

When we hear about the telescope James Webbwe think especially of its size and its power which is much higher than that of other existing space telescopes. The Webb telescope has also started to take images of the Universe with a unprecedented level of precision. But a part of the space observatory that will have cost 10 billion dollars does not necessarily reflect the cost of the telescope and its power, its Hard disk.

According to information, the storage hard drive on board the Webb Telescope is a solid state drive with 68 GB capacity. One would expect a disk with a much higher capacity on a spacecraft of this level, but there is several reasons behind this choice.

James Webb
Credits 123RF.com

According to estimates, 68 GB of storage capacity is about the amount of data the telescope can store in a day.

The reasons for this choice

According to NASA, the primary reason this type of hard drive was chosen was because the Webb Telescope is constantly bombarded by cosmic radiation. In addition, the space observatory operates at a very low temperature close to absolute zero. Like all the other elements of the telescope, the SSD hard disk must be radiation protected and had to go through a very rigorous certification process.

Concerning the other characteristics of the disc, this one can be filled in 120 minutes using the subsystem in charge of commands and data which has a speed of 48Mbps. During filling, the telescope is able to transmit data to earth with a speed of 28Mbps through a Ka-band connection to the Deep Space Network.

With this configuration, Webb can beam his data back to Earth by 4.5 hourseven if it collects about 57 GB of data per day versus 1 to 2 GB for Hubble. This transfer is carried out during two daily windows of 4 hours each. Thus, Webb only needs enough storage space to put the images taken during one day.

The major drawback of this low capacity

Even though this system chosen for Webb seems ideal, it still has its disadvantages. According to NASA estimates, only 60 GB of hard drive storage space will be available at the end of Webb’s 10-year life due to wear and radiation. In addition, the 3% of the disk is already used for the storage of engineering and telemetry data.

So, the margin is a little tight for the Webb telescope regarding its hard drive. Hopefully, the observatory’s greatest successes will come during its first years of operation.

SOURCE: Engadget

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