A problem has been detected with the ultra-cold instrument of the Webb telescope

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A problem has been detected with the ultra-cold instrument of the Webb telescope

Technical problems can always arise, even on the most powerful and expensive telescopes. According to the information, a problem has been detected with one of the instruments of the James Webb Space TelescopeMore precisely the MIRI or Mid-Infrared Instrument which operates at an ultra-low temperature. The ground crew was thus forced to suspend certain observations.

According to telescope officials, the problem arose with an element of the instrument that allows scientists to choose the wavelength to study. The item in question is a ” wheel “ which is only used for one of MIRI’s 4 observation modes. This mode is the MRS or medium resolution spectroscopyand in this mode the camera does not capture an image but rather the spectrum of light.


James Webb Space Telescope
Credits 123RF.com

According to a NASA statement released on Tuesday, September 20, ground crews first detected friction in the wheel near the end of August. After conducting the investigation, they decided to suspend observations in the affected mode. A commission is currently evaluating the best decision to take for the future.

NASA’s opinion

According to NASA, the team in charge of the Webb telescope has suspended the observations already scheduled using the observation mode reached. At the same time, officials continue to analyze the behavior of the instrument and are developing strategies to be able to resume observations using the MRS as soon as possible.

Regarding the general condition of the Webb Telescope, NASA said the observatory is doing well. The other three modes of MIRI, which are Imaging, Low-Resolution Spectroscopy, and Coronagraphy, operate normally and remain available for scientific observation.

The MIRI instrument

MIRI is part of 4 Webb Telescope scientific instruments. it’s about the combination of a camera and a spectrograph. This allows him to capture both images and spectra. This instrument focuses on observations in the mid-infrared and can thus detect light coming from distant galaxies and stars in the process of forming.

All of Webb’s instruments need a very low temperature to work, but MIRI in particular has need the lowest temperature. While the other three instruments only need Webb’s solar shield to reach temperatures down to -223°C, MIRI must use special cryocoolers to reach – 266° C, that is to say 12° above absolute zero.

SOURCE: Space.com

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