Not everything is perfect with the new observatory, even though it has been a huge success and a highly effective research tool. There is a hardware issue that is currently under review and one of the observing modes is not functioning.
There are four instruments that operate in the part of the spectrum that is not visible to the naked eye. There is an issue with the fourth instrument, which operates in the mid-IR, but three of the instruments are working as intended.
There are different modes of operation for each instrument. One of the modes that is not functioning is one of the 17 modes.
The Mid-Infrared instrument is particularly useful for studying how stars and planets form and is useful for other research. A coronagraphic mode in which light from bright stars can be blocked out to observe the planets around them is one of the four modes. One of the modes that it has is malfunctioning.
NASA wrote in an update that on August 24 a mechanism that supports one of these modes exhibited what appears to be increasedfriction during setup for a science observation. Scientists can choose between short, medium, and longer wavelengths when using the MRS mode.
Scientists will not be using the medium-resolution mode for the time being. NASA says that teams are working on ways that the mode could be brought back into a working state, and that an anomalies review board will be making a decision on how to move forward. The issue is limited to the one mode because the other three modes are still functioning.
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