The $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope has only been at his place of work for a few months. Nevertheless, it already has to defend itself from meteorite fire.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was hit by a micrometeorite, according to the US space agency Nasa . Part of the mirror was damaged. However, the space telescope can start its work as planned.

The telescope had only arrived at its place of work, the La Grange L2 point 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, at the end of January. Next month it should provide the first images of distant stars and galaxies.

But the micrometeorites are already larger than NASA had anticipated.

The universe is full of extremely fast-flying micrometeorites. These are usually no bigger than a grain of sand. Spacecraft are designed to withstand such collisions, including the JWST. Such a meteorite collision has already been simulated on Earth to ensure that the 10 billion dollar telescope is not killed prematurely by the ubiquitous space sand.

Image distortions need to be corrected

But the micrometeorite that hit the JWST between May 23 and 25 was already larger than the simulations had predicted. The impact leads to disturbances in the image recording, which the Nasa team now has to compensate for. The primary mirror consists of 18 segments that can be individually adjusted.

Nasa has already made the first changes and hopes to be able to correct almost all of the image distortions caused by the damage. The telescope was designed with a high level of fault tolerance so that it should continue to work even after damage from multiple impacts. What is worrying, however, is that just a few months after launch, the micrometeorites are larger than expected.

Telescope can rotate

In principle, the JWST can also defend itself against micrometeorites. If a detected meteor shower approaches the telescope, it can turn in such a way that the sensitive optics turn its back on it. However, the current impact was a random event that could not have been foreseen, according to NASA.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. It endured numerous delays and budget overruns before launching in December. NASA promises the release of the first high-resolution images for July 12th. The main purpose of the JWST is to look into the past and take pictures of the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang.