Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA Completes First Part of Webb Telescope's ‘Eye Surgery’ Operation

16.05.2013
Much like the inside of an operating room, in the clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., engineers worked meticulously to implant part of the eyes of the James Webb Space Telescope. They scrubbed up and suited up to perform one of the most delicate performances of their lives. That part of the eyes, the MIRI, or Mid-Infrared Instrument, will glimpse the formation of galaxies and see deeper into the universe than ever before.

It's high-stakes surgery that has taken years of preparation. This science instrument must fit precisely into the ISIM, or Integrated Science Instrument Module (the black frame on the right to which they install the MIRI), so that it is installed exactly where it needs to be within the width of a thin human hair.



This intricate process involves a tremendous amount of work from the engineering team to make sure the instrument is settled and installed just right. The MIRI itself weighs 181 pounds (82 kg) and is being held by a crane (on the left of the photo), which is being maneuvered by the engineer at the base of the ladder. Each engineer has a role in the process that must be done as delicately as possible so as not to disturb anything, said Jason Hylan, the engineer responsible for the operation from start to finish.

Disturbing MIRI would cost the mission the critical science that will help shape our knowledge of the universe, and push the boundaries of scientific discoveries. For that reason, precise engineering is key and that can put some of the engineers in awkward positions, literally.

"Because we are trying to put so much stuff into such a small space, we always run into problems related to access,” Hylan said. “This is somewhat akin to working on a car under the hood – some things are easy to get to because they are on the outside of where you are working. Other parts are buried and are very difficult to get to. Much of what we have to integrate is on the 'inside' and so access is very difficult. During the operation, we need to access multiple things at the same time and one person may only be able to access one area, so we need multiple people all around doing the same thing at the same time. It is a very coordinated operation."

Hylan said that, like watching the new World Trade Center being built in New York right now, the process is tedious, but the end result is something significant that will leave its mark on a generation.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built and observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the first galaxies formed and see unexplored planets around distant stars. The Webb telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Laura Betz
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Laura Betz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/webb/news/eye-part-complete.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A tale of two pulsars' tails: Plumes offer geometry lessons to astronomers
18.01.2017 | Penn State

nachricht Studying fundamental particles in materials
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Data analysis optimizes cyber-physical systems in telecommunications and building automation

18.01.2017 | Information Technology

Reducing household waste with less energy

18.01.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>