Research, Technology

How much memory does the James Webb telescope have? Spoiler: less than in your smartphone

The long-awaited James Webb Space Telescopefinally started his work and recently shared his first shots. On the obtained photographs, you can see the cluster of galaxies SMACS 0723, the Karina Nebula, the South Ring Nebula, and so on - my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova spoke about all this in detail in this article. Images of all the mentioned regions of space were made in just a few days, which researchers could not even dream of before. At the moment, scientists are extremely intrigued by what discoveries they can make with such a powerful space observatory. However, by earthly standards, a huge structure can hardly be called powerful - a 68 gigabyte SSD drive is installed in the telescope to store data. It turns out that in terms of the amount of available memory, a telescope worth 10 billion dollars is inferior to a smartphone of the average price.

To some extent, the James Webb telescope is weaker than the average smartphone

How much information does the James Webb telescope store?

The new James Webb telescope is working ininfrared range, which is invisible to the human eye. With the help of powerful optics, he is able to look at and take pictures of objects that are located thousands of light years from Earth. Scientists hope that in the near future the space observatory will be able to show us the moment when the first stars lit up in the universe. Such images could completely change people's understanding of the cosmos and even help discover life beyond Earth.

High hopes for the James Webb telescope

The James Webb Telescope is open seven days a week.depending on the tasks assigned to them, daily it collects up to 57 gigabytes of information. To store this data, it has a 68 gigabyte SSD drive, but the device cannot use all this storage. The fact is that some part of the disk is needed to store engineering data and telemetry - about 3% of the drive is reserved for these. It is believed that this fragment of the disk will be filled in ten years.

For comparison, the Hubble telescope has 2 gigabytes of memory.

Interesting fact: the James Telescope was originally plannedWebb will be able to work for a maximum of 10 years. However, his launch was so perfect that he managed to save a lot of fuel - the observatory will be able to work longer.

Based on this, it can be concluded thatIn terms of memory, a huge telescope, which took about 10 billion dollars to develop, is inferior to an ordinary smartphone. But it should be understood that the drive is clearly very different in design from those used in our smartphones and computers - at least it has protection from space conditions. Using a conventional SSD would have caused the mission to fail because such a drive would quickly stop working.

Weak computers in space are the norm. The computer that landed Americans on the moon was 25 million times weaker than the iPhone.

How the James Webb Telescope Sends Data to Earth

Information on the space SSDThe observatory is constantly updated. The fact is that the telescope constantly sends data to Earth for study and publication on the Internet. The device is located at the Lagrange point L2 - the region of gravitational equilibrium, which is located 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth on a straight line between us and the Sun. This place was chosen because it is easiest to study the Universe from there, without making big adjustments to the position of a huge structure. However, the Lagrange point L2 has one big disadvantage - it is very far from the Earth, which complicates data transmission. Scientists were well aware of this complexity, but still found a solution.

The James Webb telescope is located at the closest Lagrange point

To transmit data to Earth, the observatoryJames Webb uses Ka-band frequencies from 26.5 to 40 GHz, which are commonly used in satellite communications and radar. According to IEEE Spectrum, a 25.9 GHz channel was allocated for the telescope - it transmits data through it at speeds up to 28 Mbps. During development, the NASA team also considered using other frequencies, such as the X-band (from 7 to 11.2 GHz) and the S-band (from 2 to 4 GHz) - they are just popular among devices that are far from Earth. But the choice eventually fell on the Ka-band, because of the high data transfer rate and stability.

NASA officials say they will be sharing more photos from James Webb in the near future. In order not to miss anything important, subscribe to our Telegram channel.

At the end of the article, I note that the James Webb telescope has already managed to get into trouble - it collided with a space object. How it all ended, read in this article.