There’s a kink in one of the instruments in NASA’s powerful James Web Space Telescope, the agency. After around two months of sending back beautiful, precise photos from deep in space, the team behind the telescope detected an issue with one of the four observing modes on JWST’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). Observations using that mode are on pause while the team learns more.
MIRI, the telescope’s, can see wavelengths of light invisible to the human eye. It’s good for seeing clear details of things like newly forming stars. It was used to take the image of the galaxy group “Stephan’s Quintet,” .
In late August, the team saw “increased friction” on one of the wheels used to switch between wavelengths on one mode of MIRI — the medium-resolution spectroscopy mode, NASA said in a statement. The agency convened an anomaly review board on September 6th and decided to stop using that mode for now. They’re working to find a solution.
The rest of the modes in the mid-infrared instrument are fine and available to make observations, as is the rest of the telescope, the agency said. The telescope hasacross its four instruments, which can each be used to look for different kinds of information in the universe. MIRI’s medium-resolution spectroscopy mode can be used to analyze molecules in disks of planet-forming debris, while other modes might be better for looking at quasars or taking extremely detailed shots of distant galaxies.
This isn’t the only hiccup for the JWST, which got into position to observe the cosmos— in June, it got that damaged one of its mirrors. That incident wasn’t a huge shock. Even for a $10 billion telescope, getting hit with space debris is an .