The James Webb Telescope’s hard drive can’t store Warzone, but it will withstand the horrifying effects of cosmic radiation

Our colleagues at Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab) noticed something interesting: the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a replacement for the Hubble array used to take HD pictures of the farthest reaches of space, has an absolutely puny hard drive—68 gigabytes. What gives?!

I think this gets at some interesting questions about what makes computer hardware “powerful” or, more accurately, well-suited to its task. The JWST, which has been pumping out some incredible images (opens in new tab), is outfitted with a “Solid State Recorder” that stores the array’s collected data before transmitting it down to Earth. The JWST is built to collect around 57GB of data each day, transmitting half the quota at a time during two orbital windows in the Earth’s rotation. The telescope itself has no substantial long-term storage because it doesn’t need it—that data doesn’t do anyone any good floating in space.