James Webb’s MIRI instrument suspended its observations due to an anomaly

in hive-109160 •  2 months ago 

(NASA / Wikimedia Commons https://bit.ly/3DV0hPk)

The James Webb Telescope has temporarily suspended observations of one of its instruments, the medium-resolution spectroscopy MIRI instrument.

The reason for the suspension was an anomaly in the operation of one of the mechanisms responsible for changing the filters used in spectroscopy.

MIRI is one of the 4 main James Webb scientific instruments. It includes a camera and a four-channel spectrograph operating in the mid and long infrared wavelengths.

The MIRI camera has

  • a rotating wheel with a set of narrow-band
  • wide-band filters
  • a prism
  • four corona masks.

The scientific instrument is equipped with a helium cryocooler that allows it to be cooled to an operating temperature of 7 K°.

MIRI is capable of operating in four modes:

  • imaging
  • low resolution spectroscopy (LRS, wavelengths from 5 to 10 micrometers)
  • medium resolution spectroscopy (MRS, wavelengths from 5 to 28 micrometers)
  • coronography (used for exoplanet and protoplanetary disks studies

(The MIRI instrument / YouTube - James Webb Space Telescope (JWST))

On August 24, a team of specialists discovered an anomaly in the operation of one of the mechanisms responsible for the MRS mode.

This happened when they were preparing the observatory for scientific observations,

The problem lies in the increased friction during the movement of the grating wheel, which is installed in the mechanisms of rotation of two assemblies of dichroic mirrors.

This mechanism makes it possible to select the desired wavelengths in spectroscopic observations.

So, the observations in this mode were stopped, and on September 6 a commission was assembled to solve the problem.

The James Webb's other systems operate normally, while MIRI remains in observing mode.

NASA’s scientists believe that the problem will be solved soon and will not affect the functionality of the telescope.


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