The James Webb Space Telescope’s supercool MIRI camera is back in full science mode after a technical problem with its grating wheel forced scientists to stop some observations.
The grating wheel in the Medium Resolution Spectrometer (MRS) of James Webb Space TelescopeThe Middle Infrared Instrument (MIRI) allows astronomers to choose which wavelengths of ambient light to observe. universally. The wheel, which is used in only four MIRI observing modes, began to show signs of friction in August, forcing the mission team to suspend observations in the affected mode.
After weeks of researching the machines, they concluded the problem by “increasing the contact force between the central wheel supporting the sub-component assembly under certain conditions,” the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, which is responsible for Webb’s operations, said a * it is said (Opens in a new tab).
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Engineers have now given the green light to the affected spectroscopy method to resume operations and to develop recommendations on how to safely use the affected wheel, STScI said in a statement.
“The engineering test demonstrating the new performance parameters for the grid mechanism was successfully achieved on November 2, 2022,” STScI said in a statement. “MIRI invades MRS science observations, taking advantage of the unique opportunity to observe Saturn’s polar regions. The JWST team will place additional MRS science observations, initially in a highly orchestrated cadence with additional trending measurements to prepare for the return of MIRI’s MRS mode to full science scheduling.”
When operating in MRS mode; AMAZING it does not take images, but light spectra, the light absorption of the fingers themselves, which reveal the chemical compositions of the observed objects.
MIRI’s other three observational methods—imaging, coronagraphic imaging, and low-expedition spectroscopy—remained normal during MRS imaging. The super cool camera demonstrated its prowess by snapping a range of stunning iconic images Columns of creationwhich dusty tangled daedalas I retain eerie.
MIRI, an expert in the detection of infrared mediums, requires the coldest temperatures of all Webb instruments to operate accurately. While the other three instruments — NIRCam, NIRSspec and FGS/NIRISS — rely on the telescope and its giant sunshield to maintain temperatures of minus 369.4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 223 degrees Celsius), MIRI requires additional cryoscopes to approach even colder temperatures. minus 447 degrees F (minus 266 degrees C). That’s only 12 degrees F (7 degrees C) above absolute zero, the temperature at which the motion of atoms stops. Since MIRI detects infrared light, which is essentially heat, any added heat decreases the sensitivity of its measurements.
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