"Microshutters" are tiny doorways that bring stars and galaxies very far away into better focus. This new technology will go aboard the James Webb Space Telescope, to be launched into space in a decade.
The microshutters will enable scientists to block unwanted light from objects closer to the camera in space, letting the light from faraway objects shine through. To get an idea of how these tiny little "hairlike" shutters work, think about how you try to make something look clearer – you squint. By squinting, your eyelashes block out light closer to you. That's similar to how the microshutters work.
These microshutters will allow the telescope to focus on the faint light of stars and galaxies so far away, they formed early in the history of the universe. That's because light travels at 186,000 miles per second, and light is still traveling through space from the time the universe started. No other telescope has this microshutter technology.
The Webb Telescope will take over for the Hubble Space Telescope. It is planned for launch in the next decade.
New technology always gets tested and re-tested to make sure it's ready to go on a spacecraft. In December 2006, the microshutters passed important tests that showed they can handle the stresses of being launched and placed in deep space.
The microshutters were designed, built and tested at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. They will work with a camera scheduled to be onboard the telescope called the "Near Infrared Spectrograph," which will be built by the European Space Agency. The spectrograph will break up the light from the galaxies into a rainbow of different colors, allowing scientists to determine the kinds of stars and gasses that make up the galaxies and measure their distances and motions.
"To build a telescope that can peer farther than Hubble can, we needed brand new technology," said Murzy Jhabvala, chief engineer of Goddard's Instrument Technology and Systems Division. "We've worked on this design for over six years, opening and closing the tiny shutters tens of thousands of times in order to perfect the technology."
Each shutter measures 100 by 200 microns, or about the width of three to six human hairs. These tiny shutters are arranged in a waffle-like grid containing over 62,000 shutters. The telescope will contain four of these waffle-looking grids all put together. They also have to work at the incredibly cold temperature of minus 388 degrees Fahrenheit (-233 degrees Celsius).
The big benefit of the microshutters is that they will allow scientists to look at 100 things in space at the same time and see deeper into space in less time.
"The microshutters are a remarkable engineering feat that will have applications both in space and on the ground, even outside of astronomy in biotechnology, medicine and communications," said Harvey Moseley, the Microshutter Principal Investigator.
Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions
24.11.2017 | Penn State
New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision
24.11.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons
The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...
Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences