The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), behind the Hubble Space Telescope, is now taking in some stunning images of outer space we’ve never seen before. But have you ever wondered how JWST saves these high resolution images and sends them to Earth?
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There is a reason behind the very low data storage capacity of JWST. This space telescope is located at Lagrangian Point (L2) which is located at a distance of about 1.5 million km from Earth. With such a great distance between Earth and the JWST, it means that the data collected by the telescopes should make it back to Earth without any damage.
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But it also means that JWST will run out of data storage in just one day from the scheduled snapshot. While this is technically true, JWST has a daily scheduled opportunity to send all data back to Earth.
JWST is connected to the Deep Space Network (DSN) with Voyager, the Mars rover and other sensors. The DSN consists of three antenna complexes: Canberra, Australia; Madrid, Spain; Barstow, Calif. With this, it takes about 4.5 hours for JWST to send all its data back to Earth, and it does so in two 4-hour communication windows per day.
So, unlike smartphone users with 64GB storage capacity, JWST deletes all their daily data as soon as the transfer is confirmed on Earth, and a 68GB SSD is sufficient for this. NASA also estimates that all radiation and wear and tear will reduce JWST storage capacity to 60 GB over a 10-year time frame.