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Nasa warns meteorite could hit James Webb Space Telescope just two weeks after launch

NASA is hoping space debris will smash into their newly launched James Webb Space Telescope.

The US space agency is not panicking yet because it has indeed taken into account the impact scenarios.

The telescope has recently appeared in space, but this has left its mirrors and sunshades vulnerable to space debris.

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The telescope has recently appeared in space, but this has left its mirrors and sunshades vulnerable to space debris.Credit: AP
The James Webb Space Telescope is covered in mirrors that can be smashed by microscopic objects

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The James Webb Space Telescope is covered in mirrors that can be smashed by microscopic objectsCredit: AFP

The James Webb Space Telescope was launched on December 25, 2021.

It’s the world’s largest and most powerful space telescope and it costs around $10 billion (£7.3 billion).

The telescope is now fully deployed, meaning it’s finally opening up huge mirrors and solar shields that will help it search for signs of life in the universe.

Essentially, a telescope is a giant mirror that can use infrared to see beyond what we’ve seen before.

However, having such a large mirror hovering in space could be problematic given the number of meteors that could hit it.

Nasa thinks an impact may be inevitable.

Nasa Goddard Space Flight Center scientist Michelle Thaller explains in a live stream: “Some small impact from micro purpose will happen.

“You know, for the duration of the mission, there’s going to be some damage to the telescope’s mirrors.”

The good news is that Nasa experts think the telescope can survive some damage.

A broken mirror can be a problem for James Webb but they are designed to take a little damage.

Punctures in the telescope’s protective sunshade may also exist.

“It’s part of our lifelong calculations,” said Nasa engineer Julie Van Campen.

Unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, Nasa experts will not be able to visit the James Webb Space Telescope in person and physically repair it.

One economical advantage is that the new telescope’s orbit should place it at a location at a greater distance, where there is much less space junk than what Hubble has faced.

Unfortunately, debris will always be a threat to space telescopes, and all engineers can do is take as many precautions as possible.

Nasa wants the James Webb Space Telescope to last at least ten years so it has a decade of asteroids dodging it.

NASA launches the largest and most powerful telescope ever into space

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https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/17290286/nasa-warns-meteorite-could-hit-james-webb-space-telescope/ Nasa warns meteorite could hit James Webb Space Telescope just two weeks after launch

Caroline Bleakley

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