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 Pulses of electrons manipulate nanomagnets and store information
21.07.2017 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion
21.07.2017 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

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: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>