To help identify these colors and objects the James Webb Space Telescope will be using a spectrograph called NIRSpec. Recently, the engineering test unit for the Webb telescope's Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument arrived at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. from its manufacturer in Germany for preliminary testing.
"A spectrograph is an instrument that separates light into a spectrum," said Bernie Rauscher of NASA Goddard. "One example of a spectrograph that most folks know about is a chandelier (or diamond ring). When sunlight shines through it, it breaks it up into colors. NIRSpec analyzes those colors from deep space to help us solve mysteries." Rauscher is the Principal Investigator for the NIRSpec Detector Subsystem and the Deputy Project Scientist of the Webb's Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM).
The NIRSpec instrument will be the principal spectrographic instrument on-board the Webb telescope.
The components that make up NIRSpec will be sensitive to infrared wavelengths from the most distant galaxies and will be capable of obtaining spectra of more than 100 objects in the cosmos simultaneously. Determining an object's spectra is important, because it will help scientists determine the age, chemical composition and distances of faint galaxies. These measurements are key to unraveling the history of galaxy formation in the early Universe - one of the primary science goals of the Webb mission.
One unique technology in the NIRSpec that enables it to obtain those 100 simultaneous spectra is a micro-electromechanical system called a "microshutter array." NIRSpec's microshutter cells, each approximately as wide as a human hair, have lids that open and close when a magnetic field is applied. Each cell can be controlled individually, allowing it to be opened or closed to view or block a portion of the sky. It is this adjustability that allows the instrument to do spectroscopy on so many objects simultaneously. Because the objects NIRSpec will be looking at are so far away and so faint, the instrument needs a way to block out the light of nearer bright objects. Microshutters operate similarly to people squinting to focus on an object by blocking out interfering light.
NASA Goddard has a lot invested in the NIRSpec. Goddard built NIRSpec's detector and microshutter systems. EADS/Astrium is the European Space Agency's (ESA) prime contractor for the overall NIRSpec instrument. The prototype instrument was integrated and tested at Astrium's facility in Munich, Germany, before being shipped to Goddard.
Now that it has arrived at Goddard, the NIRSpec engineering test unit will go through pre-integration testing with the ISIM, which acts as a "chassis" to the Webb telescope observatory. Along with the other instruments, NIRSpec will be fitted into the ISIM, which is also currently at Goddard. The engineering test unit reproduces the physical, thermal, electrical and optical (up to the Micro-Shutter Array unit) properties of the flight model.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the next-generation premier space observatory, exploring deep space phenomena from distant galaxies to nearby planets and stars. The Webb Telescope will give scientists clues about the formation of the universe and the evolution of our own solar system, from the first light after the Big Bang to the formation of star systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth.
The Webb Telescope project is managed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, and will launch in 2014.
For information about NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, visit: http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/
For more information about the NIRSpec, visit: http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/nirspec.html
For more information, visit the NIRSpec website at the Space Telescope Science Institute: http://www.stsci.edu/ngst/instruments/nirspec/
Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation
19.01.2018 | Carnegie Institution for Science
Artificial agent designs quantum experiments
19.01.2018 | Universität Innsbruck
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy