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NASA Detects a Problem On The James Webb Space Telescope



James Webb Space Telescope

NASA announced this week that it has detected a problem with its James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and as a result, it has put a slate of observations on pause.

The advanced telescope allows astronomers to observe the Universe like never before, and its breathtaking first images and data are clear indicators of its prowess. To do this, it draws information across multiple wavelengths of light.

Scientists rely on any number of observational modes on the JWST to pool information from great distances, which helps them to reconstruct a picture of what is happening far, far away.

But NASA announced in a JWST blog post that one of these modes, the medium-resolution spectroscopy (MRS), is not working properly.

A “grating-wheel” mechanism for this mode, which helps scientists further narrow down and select the sort of wavelength through which they want to view the Universe, had an issue on August 24. NASA’s Tuesday announcement states the wheel “exhibited what appears to be increased friction during setup for a science observation.”

As a result, the JWST team has paused the scheduling of observations that use this mode until the problem is resolved. However, NASA said the James Webb Telescope is in good health, and MIRI’s other three observing modes are operating normally, and remain available for science observations as explained in the video below.