Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Webb Telescope's 'golden spider'

Date:
August 23, 2012
Source:
NASA
Summary:
What looks like a giant golden spider weaving a web of cables and cords, is actually ground support equipment, including the Optical Telescope Simulator (OSIM), for the James Webb Space Telescope. OSIM's job is to generate a beam of light just like the one that the real telescope optics will feed into the actual flight instruments. Because the real flight instruments will be used to test the real flight telescope, their alignment and performance first have to be verified by using the OSIM. Engineers are thoroughly checking out OSIM now in preparation for using it to test the flight science instruments later.

Ground support equipment, including the Optical Telescope Simulator (OSIM), for the James Webb Space Telescope.
Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Gunn

What looks like a giant golden spider weaving a web of cables and cords, is actually ground support equipment, including the Optical Telescope Simulator (OSIM), for the James Webb Space Telescope. OSIM's job is to generate a beam of light just like the one that the real telescope optics will feed into the actual flight instruments. Because the real flight instruments will be used to test the real flight telescope, their alignment and performance first have to be verified by using the OSIM. Engineers are thoroughly checking out OSIM now in preparation for using it to test the flight science instruments later.

Related Articles


This photo was taken from inside a large thermal-vacuum chamber called the Space Environment Simulator (SES), at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Engineers have blanketed the structure of the OSIM with special insulating material to help control its temperature while it goes into the deep freeze testing that mimics the chill of space that Webb will ultimately experience in its operational orbit over 1 million miles from Earth. The golden-colored thermal blankets are made of aluminized kapton, a polymer film that remains stable over a wide range of temperatures. The structure that looks like a silver and black cube underneath the "spider" is a set of cold panels that surround OSIM's optics.

During testing, OSIM's temperature will drop to 100 Kelvin (-280 F or -173 C) as liquid nitrogen flows through tubes welded to the chamber walls and through tubes along the silver panels surrounding OSIM's optics. These cold panels will keep the OSIM optics very cold, but the parts covered by the aluminized kapton blankets will stay warm.

"Some blankets have silver facing out and gold facing in, or inverted, or silver on both sides, etc.," says Erin Wilson, a Goddard engineer. "Depending on which side of the blanket your hardware is looking at, the blankets can help it get colder or stay warmer, in an environmental test."

Another reason for thermal blankets is to shield the cold OSIM optics from unwanted stray infrared light. When the OSIM is pointing its calibrated light beam at Webb's science instruments, engineers don't want any stray infrared light, such as "warm photons" from warm structures, leaking into the instruments' field of view. Too much of this stray light would raise the background too much for the instruments to "see" light from the OSIM -- it would be like trying to photograph a lightning bug flying in front of car headlights.

To get OSIM's optics cold, the inside of the chamber has to get cold, and to do that, all the air has to be pumped out to create a vacuum. Then liquid nitrogen has to be run though the plumbing along the inner walls of the chamber. Wilson notes that's why the blankets have to have vents in them: "That way, the air between all the layers can be evacuated as the chamber pressure drops, otherwise the blankets could pop," says Wilson.

The most powerful space telescope ever built, Webb is the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Webb's four instruments will reveal how the universe evolved from the Big Bang to the formation of our solar system. Webb is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

More information about the James Webb Space Telescope is available at: http://jwst.nasa.gov/


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

NASA. "Webb Telescope's 'golden spider'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823152105.htm>.
NASA. (2012, August 23). Webb Telescope's 'golden spider'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823152105.htm
NASA. "Webb Telescope's 'golden spider'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823152105.htm (accessed January 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, January 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA Holds Memorial to Remember Astronauts

NASA Holds Memorial to Remember Astronauts

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) NASA is remembering 17 astronauts who were killed in the line of duty and dozens more who have died since the agency&apos;s beginning. A remembrance ceremony was held Thursday at NASA&apos;s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Rumble (Jan. 27, 2015) Scientists working with NASA&apos;s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California discovered an unexpected moon while observing asteroid 2004 BL86 during its recent flyby past Earth. Credit to &apos;NASA JPL&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Eleven years ago NASA&apos;s Opportunity rover touched down on Mars for what was only supposed to be a 90-day mission. Since then it has traveled 25.9 miles (41.7 kilometers), further than any other off-Earth surface vehicle has ever driven. Credit to &apos;NASA&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
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