Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Webb Telescope's NIRCam engineering test unit arrives at NASA Goddard

A test unit for the "NIRCam" instrument that will fly aboard the James Webb Space Telescope has arrived at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. and has been placed in a clean room for a year's worth of tests.

The Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) will be the primary imager on the Webb telescope and will measure light in the spectrum in the wavelength range of 0.6 to 5 microns. The unit that arrived at Goddard is actually an engineering test unit, and not the actual NIRCam that will fly aboard the Webb telescope.

The Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) is being built by a team at University of Arizona (UoA) and Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Center, Palo Alto, Calif. and led by Prof. Marcia Rieke at UoA. Lockheed Martin built the NIRCam Engineering test unit (ETU). An ETU is basically a replica of the flight unit that can perform certain flight functions which are tested at NASA Goddard before flight delivery.

At NASA Goddard, the NIRCam will undergo one year's worth of testing to verifiy instrument interfaces and integration and test processes. The ETU will be used to practice installation into the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) structure. The ISIM is the heart of the Webb telescope, the unit that will house the four main Webb instruments. Measurements will also be made of the precise location of the NIRCam instrument within ISIM to later aid in alignment of the flight model. The NIRCam is a science instrument but also an Optical Telescope Element wavefront sensor, which provides something similar to instant LASIK vision correction.

The actual flight unit is currently already being built, and the outcome of the tests may lead to a change in handling procedures of the flight NIRCam, but not a change in the flight construction.

The actual NIRCam will study infrared light. Because the universe is expanding, light from the earliest galaxies has been stretched, or "redshifted," from visible light into infrared light. Humans can't see infrared light, but can perceive it as heat. NIRCam will be able to visualize infrared light, making it essential to examining the early phases of star and galaxy formation, and studying the shapes and colors of distant galaxies. NIRCam will also help astronomers learn the age of stars in nearby galaxies.

"The NIRCam ETU includes one fully functional optical channel and was used to demonstrate the hardware to be used in aligning the Webb telescope's mirror segments," said Marcia Rieke, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona, and principal investigator for the near-infrared camera (NIRCam).

The James Webb Space Telescope will detect the first light emitting galaxies and star clusters to form in the Universe after the Big Bang. The NIRCam design is optimized for finding these "First Light" sources. The camera also includes features that will make it a wonderful tool for studying star formation in the Milky Way Galaxy and for discovering and characterizing planets around other stars.

Diane Yun NIRCam Instrument Manager at NASA Goddard,"A lot of hard work went into developing and testing the NIRCam ETU. We are excited to have it here at Goddard for ISIM testing. This brings us one step closer to achieving the science goals of NIRCam and the Webb telescope."

The actual NIRCam flight instrument is going to arrive at NASA Goddard in 2011 for testing and incorporation into the Webb telescope.

The Webb telescope is a partnership between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

For related images and video, visit:
For more information on the James Webb Space Telescope, visit:

Lynn Chandler | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Big Bang ETU ISIM Milky Way NASA NIRCam Space Space Telescope Telescope infrared light

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>