Uh oh.

Comms Delay

NASA says that one of the scientific instruments attached to its uber-expensive James Webb Space Telescope has encountered a glitch, making it "currently unavailable for science observations."

The observatory's Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) "experienced a communications delay within the instrument, causing its flight software to time out."

While that may sound like a serious technical problem, NASA claims that "there is no indication of any danger to the hardware, and the observatory and other instruments are all in good health."

In other words, things could be a whole lot worse. For now, though, the communications delay has forced the space agency to reschedule its observations.

Glitched Again

In December, James Webb's scientific operations were also affected by a different glitch that caused onboard instruments to enter safe mode repeatedly.

NIRISS, one of James Webb's four primary instruments, allows the observatory to have a closer look at planets orbiting around some of the brightest stars in our corner of the universe.

It does so by taking "the star out of focus" and spreading "the light over lots of pixels to avoid saturating the detectors," according to an explainer.

The instrument can also mask out light being reflected from 11 of James Webb's 18 primary mirror segments to be able to spot faint light sources next to much brighter ones.

This latest glitch is unlikely to pose a significant setback to the telescope's observations, thankfully.

The observatory has already spent almost exactly a year at Lagrange point 2, roughly one million miles away — and has been flooding astronomers with an abundance of data ever since.

More on James Webb: Astronomers Complain That the JWST Is Producing Too Much Data

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