James Webb Space Telescope Operations Update

The James Webb Space Telescope resumed science operations Dec. 20, after Webb’s instruments intermittently went into safe mode beginning Dec. 7 due to a software fault triggered in the attitude control system, which controls the pointing of the observatory. During a safe mode, the observatory’s nonessential systems are automatically turned off, placing it in a protected state until the problem can be fixed. This event resulted in several pauses to science operations totaling a few days over that time period. Science proceeded otherwise during that time. The Webb team adjusted the commanding system, and science has now fully resumed.

The observatory and instruments are all in good health, and were not in any danger while Webb’s onboard fault management system worked as expected to keep the hardware safe. The team is working to reschedule the affected observations.