Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

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

26.05.2010
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:
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/nircam-unit.html
For more information on the James Webb Space Telescope, visit:
www.jwst.nasa.gov

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

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

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht What happens when we heat the atomic lattice of a magnet all of a sudden?
18.07.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin

nachricht Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino
16.07.2018 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

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: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>