Remains of Halley’s Comet could collide with the James Webb Telescope: NASA prepares for any eventuality


The James Webb Telescope, the magnificent engineering work of the POT to observe the Universe from a perspective never seen before, it can be affected by debris from Halley’s Comet. According to the Nature portal, the telescope will travel for the next two years among the dust and debris of the celestial body.

Forecasts point to May 2023 and May 2024 as the period in which the device passes through the debris of Halley’s Comet.

NASA scientists are working on mitigation solutions for the event. Since its launch, the telescope has been hit by six micrometeoroids: the most recent event occurred this month.

Each micrometeoroid can “hit as fast as a bullet,” notes Nature.

At the time, Mike Menzel, principal systems engineer for the telescope at Goddard Space Flight Center, said: “Time will tell if that last impact was just some kind of anomaly.”

One of the 18 hexagonal segments that make up the telescope’s primary mirror suffered a “small distortion” from the most recent impact. What would happen in the future if larger elements, such as debris from Halley’s Comet, hit the comet?

The risk that the James Webb Space Telescope may suffer, according to NASA

At a cost of 10 billion dollars, NASA sent the James Webb Space Telescope from Earth last December, with the aim of studying the Universe with the latest technology.

It is to be specified that Halley’s comet, about 15 kilometers long by eight wide, will not pass through the inner Solar System until 2061. However, the concern lies in its debris, the dust that it leaves behind.

The useful life of the James Webb, located 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, is about 20 years.

Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s meteor environment office at Marshall Space Flight Center, noted that the mission team “he put in a lot of effort 20 years ago to try to get the meteor environment right.”

According to Nature, engineers estimated that the telescope would withstand about one impact per month, which could be large enough to damage a mirror. The percentage of risk (dents would cover only 0.1% of the primary mirror after 10 years) is within the “happiest” estimates of the experts.

It will happen?

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