NASA’s $10 billion James Web space telescope is now back in operation! After recovering from the 2nd Instrument Glitch that affected one of its instruments, NASA’s Space Telescope (JWST or Webb) officially started full science operations on Monday (January 30).
What was the flaw of the James Web Space Telescope?
NASA stated on Tuesday (January 31), the James Web Telescope team conducted days of testing and evaluation. They do so after a “communications delay” on January 15 caused issues with the telescope’s Near Infrared Imager and Spitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) instrument.
On Friday (January 27), In its brief statement, the agency made a statement. They say that it was a major defect. Moreover, the agency said: “Observations that were impacted by the pause in NIRISS operations will be rescheduled,”
Who helped NASA in diagnosing this 2nd instrument glitch?
NIRISS was provided by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), so NASA and CSA personnel collaborated on troubleshooting. According to NASA’s statement published on January 24, the initial problem was a: “communications delay within the instrument, causing its flight software to time out,”
According to NASA, NIRISS can normally operate in four different modes. When other James Web Space Telescope instruments are busy, the instrument starts acting as a camera. NIRISS can also study the light signatures of small exoplanet atmospheres, perform high-contrast imaging, and study distant galaxies.
What is the Medium Resolution Spectrometer?
Prior to the NIRISS problem, another James Web Space Telescope instrument encountered a problem in August 2022. This time it was a grating wheel inside the observatory’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). However, because the wheel is only required for one of MIRI’s four observing modes, the instrument continued to observe during recovery operations. In November, work on recovering the glitch, known as the Medium Resolution Spectrometer, was all done.
How long it took to recover James Web Space Telescope?
The James Web Space Telescope team also spent two weeks in December dealing with the 2nd Instrument Glitch that kept putting the telescope in safe mode. The problem which was making science observations difficult was a software glitch in the observatory’s attitude control system, which was affecting the direction in which the telescope pointed. On December 20, the observatory recovered quickly from the problem, resuming full science operations.