A small asteroid fragment hit one of the primary mirror segments of the Hubble Space Telescope. The impact on the telescope had an effect on recent data, but initial assessments found that the telescope was performing well.
Micrometeoroids are very small and fast moving. They are part of a hostile space environment that bombards the telescope every year.
Lee Feinberg, the manager of the optical telescope element at NASA, said in an agency release that they expected occasional impacts to degrade telescope performance. Since launch, we have had four smaller measurable strikes that were consistent with expectations, and this one more recently that is larger than we assumed.
The observation point in space is called L2. The telescope isn't just floating in empty space, it's a million miles away from Earth. The telescope is located in a part of the solar system that has a lot of hostile space weather. Cosmic rays, charged solar winds, and ultraviolet radiation are some of the harmful rays.
Thankfully, Paul Geithner, a technical deputy project manager at NASA, said in the release that they designed and built Webb with performance margin to ensure it can perform its ambitious science mission even after a long time in space.
The most important part of the $10 billion mission is the mirrors. Everything from nearby exoplanets to the oldest sources of light in the universe can be seen thanks to the mirrors. After the telescope arrived at L2, the mirror went through a lengthy alignment period, which the scientists said was perfect.
The mirrors were designed to handle micrometeoroids like the one that recently hit one of the segments. It is possible for the telescope to adjust its mirror positions to correct for impacts from micrometeoroids.
The telescope can be moved away from larger events to protect its equipment. The team appears to be prepared for space at L2.
We know that one of the telescope's primary science targets will be captured in the first full-color images. The landmark telescope won't be affected by a couple of mirrors that are dusty.
The latest image shows the power of the telescope.