James Webb has hit a software glitch. The newly minted telescope has only been in service for a little over six months, but it has run into yet another problem that will delay scientific observations, NASA has announced. Previously, Webb experienced issues after a micrometeoroid hit it. Now, the latest software issue has caused the flight software to time out.
Webb’s flight software is an important aspect of the spacecraft’s instruments. As such, this Webb software glitch has had a huge effect on Webb’s current scientific missions. This software manages the spacecraft’s orientation, data collection, thermal control (which helps regulate the craft’s heat), and even its communications back home to Earth, which makes it extremely important.
NASA says that the glitch has affected the Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (or NIRISS), causing it to time out. While that is troublesome, it’s important to note that Webb isn’t about to spin out of control because of this software glitch. NASA says that there is no indication of any danger to the spacecraft at all at the moment and that all the other instruments onboard are fine.
The James Webb space telescope was launched in December of 2021, arriving at its final destination just a few weeks later. Since then, Webb has delivered image after image giving us glimpses into the mysteries of the early universe, with Webb even detecting its first exoplanet a few short weeks ago. This software glitch, then, is just another hurdle for Webb to overcome.
And NASA says that Webb will overcome it and that once the NIRISS flight software is back up and running, scientific missions will resume as normal. Until then, scientists still have plenty of other James Webb data to comb through while NASA sorts the Webb software glitch. The space telescope has already delivered terabytes of data about our universe.