Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Software Coordinates 19 Mirrors, Focuses James Webb Space Telescope

Date:
August 29, 2007
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
Scientists and engineers have created and successfully tested a set of algorithms and software programs which are designed to enable the 19 individual mirrors comprising NASA's powerful James Webb Space Telescope to function as one very sensitive telescope.

hrough a process called "Wavefront Sensing and Control," or WFSC, software aboard the observatory will compute the optimum position of each of the 18 primary mirrors and the one secondary mirror, and then adjust the positions, if necessary. Shown is a 1/6 model of the JWST mirrors that is used to test WFSC.
Credit: NASA/Northrop Grumman/Ball Aerospace

Scientists and engineers have created and successfully tested a set of algorithms and software programs which are designed to enable the 19 individual mirrors comprising NASA's powerful James Webb Space Telescope to function as one very sensitive telescope.

Related Articles


After its launch in 2013, when the Webb Telescope settles into its vantage point about one million miles from Earth, and periodically thereafter, the orientations of the telescope’s 18 primary mirror segments and the position of the secondary mirror will have to be adjusted to bring light from the universe into focus. Through a process called "Wavefront Sensing and Control," or WFSC, software aboard the observatory will compute the optimum position of each of the 19 mirrors, and then adjust the positions, if necessary.

The Webb Telescope's 18 primary mirror segments cover a combined total area of 25 square meters (approx. 30 square yards) and a diameter of 6.5 meters (approx. 21 feet). "It's critical that all 18 mirror segments be aligned in position so that they act as one smooth surface, and the secondary mirror be placed exactly right," said Bill Hayden, Systems Engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "This will allow scientists to clearly focus on very dim objects that we can't see now."

The WFSC system is put to work when the telescope takes digital pictures of a star. It then processes the images through mathematical algorithms to calculate the mirror adjustments required to bring the stellar image into focus. When the individual mirrors are properly aligned, the Webb Telescope will be able to obtain extraordinarily sharp images and detect the faint glimmer of a distant galaxy.

Recently, a team of engineers from Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. and NASA successfully tested the WFSC algorithms, proving they are ready to work on the Webb Telescope in space. The algorithms were tested on a detailed scale model of the 6.5 meter space telescope and through computer simulations.

"This major technological accomplishment, which built on the legacy of software algorithms used to fix the Hubble Space Telescope and align the Keck telescope, is a major step forward in the development of JWST. This achievement was the result of great teamwork between Ball Aerospace, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory," said John Mather, Senior Project Scientist on the Webb telescope at Goddard and the 2006 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics.

"The same technological ingenuity Ball Aerospace applied to correcting the Hubble Space Telescope’s primary mirror in 1993 is being applied to advancing the optics for the JWST observatory," said David L. Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

The Webb Telescope is designed to study the faint light from objects at the farthest reaches of space and time.

NASA researchers will present findings on these algorithms and software programs, called the "Wavefront Sensing and Controls" at the Optics and Photonics meeting of the Society for Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) meeting. The SPIE meeting will be held at the San Diego Convention Center, 111 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, Calif., August 26-30. The session, called "TRL-6 for JWST Wavefront Sensing and Control" will be on Sunday, August 26 from 11:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m. PDT, in room 29B, and is Paper 6687-7 of Conference 6687.

SPIE is an international society advancing an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light. This conference and exhibition focuses on where optical engineering meets emerging technologies of nanotechnology and science, photonic devices and solar energy and their applications.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Software Coordinates 19 Mirrors, Focuses James Webb Space Telescope." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070824095808.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2007, August 29). Software Coordinates 19 Mirrors, Focuses James Webb Space Telescope. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070824095808.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Software Coordinates 19 Mirrors, Focuses James Webb Space Telescope." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070824095808.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Italy's first female astronaut safely docks with the International Space Station, according to NASA. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins