Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA Webb Telescope mirrors installed with robotic arm precision

28.01.2016

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.


A robotic arm called the Primary Mirror Alignment and Integration Fixture is used to lift and lower each of Webb's 18 primary flight mirror segments to their locations on the telescope structure.

Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

"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.nasa.gov/webb or jwst.nasa.gov

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology
22.08.2017 | Université libre de Bruxelles

nachricht Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form
18.08.2017 | Cornell University

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: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>