Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

James Webb Space Telescope Testing to Find Infrared Light for Christmas

10.12.2007
A model of the James Webb Space Telescope's Mid-InfraRed Instrument will be tested before Christmas at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, England to ensure the final instrument can see infrared light.

Observing the universe in the infrared light portion of the spectrum is important because many objects scientists want to observe in space are far too cold to radiate at shorter wavelengths that can be seen as visible light, but they radiate strongly in infrared light.

The Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) is one of four sophisticated instruments onboard the Webb telescope which will study the early universe and properties of materials forming around new born stars in unprecedented detail. It will also be able to image directly massive planets orbiting other stars.

Speaking at the 3rd Appleton Space Conference on Dec. 6, European Consortium Lead for MIRI, Dr. Gillian Wright from the U.K. Astronomy Technology Centre (ATC) in Edinburgh said, "It is extremely exciting, after working on the project since 1998, to begin to test a complete instrument. This will provide scientists with real data which they can use to understand the best ways of making discoveries with the instrument."

MIRI's development is an effort between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena (JPL), Calif, leads the NASA effort and is responsible for the development of MIRI's detectors, its cryocooler, and flight software.

MIRI has already undergone alignment checks with a piece of test equipment simulating the Integrated Science Instrument Module, the part of the spacecraft where the MIRI will be attached. This test equipment was supplied by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., who is leading the development of the Webb observatory.

MIRI is the first of the Webb telescope instruments to reach this phase of cryogenic performance testing and marks a significant milestone for this international team.

"The testing is being undertaken at the STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire where all MIRI’s subsystems from collaborators in Europe and NASA’s JPL are integrated and tested in full," says Matt Greenhouse, Integrated Science Instrument Module scientist on the Webb Telescope project at NASA Goddard. This involves thermal and electromagnetic calibration and scientific and environmental testing.

Dr. Tanya Lim, who leads the international MIRI testing team explains, "Given the international nature of this project it is essential to bring together both instrument and test equipment components from around the world to ensure that they work together." She adds, "We will also be using the instrument flight software which will need to work with the spacecraft and ground software systems in order to command the instrument, simulate telemetry to the ground and generate images from the test environment."

The MIRI testing team are working around the clock until the completion of the first tests just before Christmas. Paul Eccleston, MIRI Assembly, Integration and Test Lead adds, "MIRI is the largest individual flight instrument that has been built at RAL, and has presented unusual challenges particularly with regard to cooling and thermal control. The instrument will operate at temperatures much lower than the rest of the spacecraft. As a result, the first two weeks of testing involved cooling the instrument down to its operational temperature of -267ºC, only 6.2K above absolute zero."

During spring 2008, further testing will take place using the MIRI Telescope Simulator -- a special facility being built in Spain. This simulator is unique to MIRI and will be able to simulate the stars that will be seen.

The James Webb Space Telescope is a 21st century space observatory that will peer back more than 13 billion years in time to understand the formation of galaxies, stars and planets and the evolution of our own solar system. It is expected to launch in 2013. The telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

nachricht New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

A room with a view - or how cultural differences matter in room size perception

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Warm winds: New insight into what weakens Antarctic ice shelves

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>