Micrometeoroid strikes cause "significant uncorrectable change" to the Webb Space Telescope

Scientists anticipated that the James Webb Space Telescope would sustain repeated micrometeoroid strikes throughout its lifetime, slowly degrading the image quality. The first significant strike occurred, it hit last May. Around one strike per month is anticipated; however, the frequency of hits that cause actual damage wasn't stated in the article.


Since launch Webb has been struck by five other, smaller micrometeoroids. One minor strike per month is roughly what engineers predicted pre-launch.

"After initial assessments, the team found the telescope is still performing at a level that exceeds all mission requirements," said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator at NASA's Science Mission Directorate, in a tweet after the C3 strike.

However, the new report suggests that the damage to the C3 segment could be more serious than first thought.

"Of the six micrometeoroid strikes detected thus far through wavefront sensing, five had negligible effects," reads the report. Wavefront sensing refers to the aberrations found in Webb's optics. "By contrast, the micrometeoroid which hit segment C3 in the period 22—24 May 2022 UT caused significant uncorrectable change in the overall figure of that segment."