I have a problem with JWST. One of the instruments, the Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS), went offline. NIRISS performs, among other things, spectroscopy in the atmospheres of exoplanets.
Offline since Sunday 15th January due to a communication error.
The software timed out due to an internal communication error. There are no indications that the instrument has been compromised in any way, and the rest of the spacecraft is functioning normally.
According to the Space Telescope Science Institute, NIRISS complements JWST’s other instruments by offering “unique observation capabilities between 0.6 and 5 m.” It is used to probe exoplanet atmospheres, detect first light (aka recombination era), and detect exoplanets. It can also capture wide-field equipment to study populations, and has several filters that increase its versatility. It can also check the light of objects that are very close to each other.
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) built NIRISS as part of its contribution to the JWST mission. We also built a Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS), a physically coupled but separate device with NIRISS.
It’s unclear when the device will be back online, but that’s bad news for observers. Observing time in JWST is in high demand and it is not clear how this delay will affect observation.
This isn’t the first mishap JWST has had to deal with. It went into safe mode for about 3 weeks in December due to a software error in the attitude control system. The telescope’s MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) also stopped working for a while.
These issues have been addressed and resolved. Hopefully this will be too.
Provided by Universe Today
Summons: JWST’s instrument went offline (27 Jan 2023) Retrieved 27 Jan 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-instrument-jwst-offline.html
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