James Webb instrument recovered and telescope resumes operations

James Webb instrument recovered and telescope resumes operations

The Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) instrument, which powers the James Webb Telescope, has resumed its science operations. It had been suspended since January 15, when it suffered a communication delay.

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At the time, the space agency reported that the incident resulted in an error in the flight software. Officials from NASA and Canada’s space agency, the partner that developed NIRISS, would work together to investigate the situation and resolve the problem. While they carried out tests, NIRISS had operations temporarily suspended.

“These [testes] established that the instrument hardware is in good condition, and NIRISS was recovered on January 27th,” they wrote in a statement. Still, they also informed that the observations that ended up affected by the failure will be rescheduled.

After a test observation, officials concluded that they were working properly, and resumed scientific observations with the instrument this Monday (30). When fully operational, NIRISS operates in four different modes, each serving different scientific objectives.

This is not the first time that one of the instruments on the James Webb Telescope has failed. In August, a component of the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) malfunctioned but was recovered in November. Back in December, a glitch caused the telescope to go into safe mode unexpectedly.

Source: STScI