Inside a massive clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland the James Webb Space Telescope team is steadily installing the largest space telescope mirror ever. Unlike other space telescope mirrors, this one must be pieced together from segments using a high-precision robotic arm.
The team uses a robotic arm called the Primary Mirror Alignment and Integration Fixture to lift and lower each of Webb's 18 primary flight mirror segments to their locations on the telescope structure. Each of the mirrors is made with beryllium, chosen for its properties to withstand the super cold temperatures of space. Each segment also has a thin gold coating to reflect infrared light. These mirror segments will function as one when the telescope is in orbit.
"In order for the combination of mirror segments to function as a single mirror they must be placed within a few millimeters of one another, to fraction-of-a-millimeter accuracy. A human operator cannot place the mirrors that accurately, so we developed a robotic system to do the assembly," said NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Program Director Eric Smith, at Headquarters in Washington.
To precisely install the segments, the robotic arm can move in six directions to maneuver over the telescope structure. While one team of engineers maneuvers the robotic arm, another team of engineers simultaneously takes measurements with lasers to ensure each mirror segment is placed, bolted and glued perfectly before moving to the next.
"While the team is installing the mirrors there are references on the structure and the mirrors that allow the team to understand where the final mirror surface is located," said Harris Corporation's James Webb Space Telescope's Assembly Integration and Test Director Gary Matthews Greenbelt, Maryland.
The team uses reference points on the telescope structure called Spherically Mounted Retroreflectors to accomplish this feat. A laser tracker, similar to the ones used by surveyors, looks at those reference points and can determine where the mirror segments go.
"Instead of using a measuring tape, a laser is used to measure distance very precisely," said Matthews. "Based off of those measurements a coordinate system is used to place each of the primary mirror segments. The engineers can move the mirror into its precise location on the telescope structure to within the thickness of a piece of paper."
Harris Corporation engineers are helping build NASA's ultra-powerful James Webb Space Telescope. Harris is responsible for integrating components made by various members of the team to form the optical telescope element, which is the portion of the telescope that will collect light and provide sharp images of deep space.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
For more information about NASA's Webb telescope, visit:http://www.
Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling
29.03.2017 | New Jersey Institute of Technology
NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts
28.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences