Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Webb Telescope spinoff technologies already seen in some industries

19.04.2012
A critical component of the James Webb Space Telescope is its new technology. Much of the technology for the Webb had to be conceived, designed and built specifically to enable it to see farther back in time. As with many NASA technological advances, some of the innovations are being used to benefit humankind in many other industries.

The Webb telescope is the world's next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Webb telescope will provide images of the first galaxies ever formed, and explore planets around distant stars. It is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

New technologies developed for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope have already been adapted and applied to commercial applications in various industries including optics, aerospace, astronomy, medical and materials. Some of these technologies can be explored for use and licensed through NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Optics Industry: Telescopes, Cameras and More

The optics industry has been the beneficiary of a new stitching technique that is an improved method for measuring large aspheres. An asphere is a lens whose surface profiles are not portions of a sphere or cylinder. In photography, a lens assembly that includes an aspheric element is often called an aspherical lens. Stitching is a method of combining several measurements of a surface into a single measurement by digitally combining the data as though it has been "stitched" together.

Because NASA depends on the fabrication and testing of large, high-quality aspheric (nonspherical) optics for applications like the James Webb Space Telescope, it sought an improved method for measuring large aspheres. Through Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, QED Technologies, of Rochester, New York, upgraded and enhanced its stitching technology for aspheres. QED developed the SSI-A, which earned the company an "R&D 100" award, and also developed a breakthrough machine tool called the aspheric stitching interferometer. The equipment is applied to advanced optics in telescopes, microscopes, cameras, medical scopes, binoculars, and photolithography.

Aerospace and Astronomy:

In the aerospace and astronomy industries, the Webb program gave 4D Technology its first commercial contract to develop the PhaseCam Interferometer system, which measures the quality of the Webb telescope's mirror segments in a cryogenic vacuum environment. This is a new way of using interferometers in the aerospace sector.

An interferometer is a device that separates a beam of light into two beams, usually by means of reflection, and then brings the beams together to produce interference, which is used to measure wavelength, index of refraction, and also distances.

Interferometry involves the collection of electromagnetic radiation using two or more collectors separated by some distance to produce a sharper image than each telescope could achieve separately.

The PhaseCam interferometer verified that the surfaces of the Webb telescope's mirror segments were as close to perfect as possible, and that they will remain that way in the cold vacuum of space. To test the Webb mirror segments, they were placed in a "cryovac" environment, where air is removed by a vacuum pump and temperatures are dropped to the extreme cold of deep space that the space craft will experience. A new dynamic interferometric technique with very short exposures that are not smeared by vibration was necessary to perform these measurements to the accuracy required, particularly in the high-vibration environment caused by the vacuum chamber's pumps.

The interferometer resulting from this NASA partnership can be used to evaluate future mirrors that need to be tested in vacuum chambers where vibration is a problem.

Medical Industry: Eye Health

New "wavefront" optical measurement devices and techniques were created for making the Webb telescope mirrors. Those have led to spinoffs in the medical industry where precise measurements are critical in eye health, for example.

The technology came about to accurately measure the James Webb Space Telescope primary mirror segments during manufacturing. Scientists at AMO WaveFront Sciences, LLC of Albuquerque, N.M. developed a new "wavefront" measurement device called a Scanning Shack Hartmann Sensor.

The optical measuring technology developed for the Webb, called "wavefront sensing" has been applied to the measurement of the human eye and allowed for significant improvements. "The Webb telescope program has enabled a number of improvements in measurement of human eyes, diagnosis of ocular diseases and potentially improved surgery," said Dan Neal, Director of Research and Development Abbott Medical Optics Inc. in Albuquerque, N.M. The Webb improvements have enabled eye doctors to get much more detailed information about the shape and "topography" of the eye in seconds rather than hours.

Materials Industry: Measuring Strength

Webb technologies have opened the door to better measurement in testing the strength of composite materials. Measuring strain in composite materials is the same as measuring how much they change in certain environments. Measuring step heights allows one to understand very small changes in a surface profile and doing all of this at high speed allows the device to work even in the presence of vibration that would normally blur the results.

"Technology developed for the Webb telescope has also helped 4D Technologies, Inc. to develop unique technology to measure strain in composite materials, to measure step heights in precision machined surfaces, and for high speed wavefront detection," said James Millerd, President, 4D Technology Corporation, Tucson, Ariz. Webb telescope technologies have also been beneficial to the economy. The technologies have enabled private sector companies such as 4D to generate significant revenue and create high-skill jobs. Much of 4D's growth from a two man start-up to over 35 people can be traced to projects originally developed for the telescope. 4D has also been able to adapt these technologies for a wide range of applications within the astronomy, aerospace, semiconductor and medical industries.

In the future, other industries may benefit from other Webb telescope technologies.

For more information about the James Webb Space Telescope, visit: www.jwst.nasa.gov

For more information about NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist, visit: www.nasa.gov/oct

For more information about 4D Technology, visit: www.4dtechnology.com

To access an interactive feature about how NASA impacts your daily life, visit the NASA Home and City website at: www.nasa.gov/city

Lynn Chandler | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Squeezing light at the nanoscale
18.06.2018 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

nachricht The Fraunhofer IAF is a »Landmark in the Land of Ideas«
15.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Festkörperphysik IAF

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: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

Im Focus: Water is not the same as water

Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Novel method for investigating pore geometry in rocks

18.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Diamond watch components

18.06.2018 | Process Engineering

New type of photosynthesis discovered

18.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>