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  NASA: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

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Author Topic:   NASA: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)
Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-10-2010 05:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST) is a large, infrared-optimized space telescope.

Webb will find the first galaxies that formed in the early Universe, connecting the Big Bang to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Webb will peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems, connecting the Milky Way to our own Solar System.

Webb's instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range.

Webb will have a large mirror, 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in diameter and a sunshield the size of a tennis court. Both the mirror and sunshade won't fit onto the rocket fully open, so both will fold up and open once Webb is in outer space. Webb will reside in an orbit about 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from the Earth.

The James Webb Space Telescope was named after a former NASA Administrator.

Robert Pearlman
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Today (Nov. 10), NASA released an independent review panel's report (PDF) on the status of the James Webb Space Telescope project.

John 
Casani, chair of the Independent Comprehensive Review Panel, summarized his group's findings in a Nov. 5 letter (PDF) to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

In summary, the Panel concluded that the JWST Project is in very good technical shape. There is no reason to question the technical integrity of the design or of the team's ability to deliver a quality product to orbit. The problems causing cost growth and schedule delays have been associated with budgeting and program management, not technical performance.
Bolden released the following statement in response.
NASA Administrator Bolden Statement On The Webb Telescope

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden made the following statement today on the release of an independent panel's review of the James Webb Space Telescope project:

"I appreciate the work done by the James Webb Space Telescope's (JWST) Independent Comprehensive Review Panel (ICRP), and want to thank Sen. Barbara Mikulski for initiating this review. The ICRP report makes clear that, while JWST technical performance has been consistent with the project plan, the cost performance and coordination have been lacking, and I agree with these findings.

"No one is more concerned about the situation we find ourselves in than I am, and that is why I am reorganizing the JWST Project at Headquarters and the Goddard Space Flight Center, and assigning a new senior manager at Headquarters to lead this important effort. The new JWST program director will have a staff of technical and cost personnel provided by the Science Mission Directorate and report to the NASA associate administrator. This will ensure more direct reporting to me and increase the project's visibility within the agency's management structure. Additionally, the Goddard Space Flight Center's project office has been reorganized to report directly to the center director. That office is undergoing personnel changes to specifically address the issues identified in the report.

"I am encouraged the ICRP verified our assessment that JWST is technically sound, and that the project continues to make progress and meet its milestones. However, I am disappointed we have not maintained the level of cost control we strive to achieve -- something the American taxpayer deserves in all of our projects.

"NASA is committed to finding a sustainable path forward for the program based on realistic cost and schedule assessments. I would like to express my appreciation to the ICRP's chair, John Casani, and the rest of the team for producing an objective, unbiased and comprehensive assessment."

SpaceAholic
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posted 12-13-2010 08:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Got Your Back:

Webb has a primary mirror six times larger than the one found on the Hubble Space Telescope. In order for a primary mirror 21 feet in diameter to travel into space, it has to be broken up into multiple segments — in this case, 18 of them.

But for the 18 to act as one primary mirror, they have to be adjusted while in orbit. How this task is achieved is the focus of this episode of Behind the Webb: Got Your Back.

Check out the Behind the Webb podcast archive for more videos.

Robert Pearlman
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NASA Marshall Space Flight Center release
NASA's Next Generation Space Telescope Marks Key Milestone

The first six of 18 segments that will form NASA's James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror for space observations will begin final round-the-clock cryogenic testing this week. These tests will confirm the mirrors will respond as expected to the extreme temperatures of space prior to integration into the telescope's permanent housing structure.

The X-ray and Cryogenic Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. will provide the space-like environment to help engineers measure how well the telescope will image infrared sources once in orbit.


Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

Above: NASA engineer Ernie Wright looks on as the first six flight ready James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror segments are prepped to begin final cryogenic testing at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Each mirror segment measures approximately 4.3 feet (1.3 meters) in diameter to form the 21.3 foot (6.5 meters), hexagonal telescope mirror assembly critical for infrared observations. Each of the 18 hexagonal-shaped mirror assemblies weighs approximately 88 pounds (40 kilograms). The mirrors are made of a light and strong metal called beryllium, and coated with a microscopically thin coat of gold to enabling the mirror to efficiently collect light.

"The six flight mirrors sitting ready for cryogenic acceptance tests have been carefully polished to their exact prescriptions," said Helen Cole, project manager for Webb activities at Marshall. "It's taken the entire mirror development team, including all the partners, over eight years of fabrication, polishing and cryogenic testing to get to this point."

During cryogenic testing, the mirrors are subjected to extreme temperatures dipping to minus 415 degrees Fahrenheit (-248C) in a 7,600 cubic-foot (approximately 215 cubic meter) helium-cooled vacuum chamber. This permits engineers to measure in extreme detail how the shape of the mirror changes as it cools. This simulates the actual processes each mirror will undergo as it changes shape over a range of operational temperatures in space.

"This final cryotest is expected to confirm the exacting processes that have resulted in flight mirrors manufactured to tolerances as tight as 20 nanometers, or less than one millionth of an inch," said Scott Texter, Webb Optical Telescope element manager at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif.

A second set of six mirror assemblies will arrive at Marshall in July to begin testing, and the final set of six will arrive during the fall.

The Webb Telescope is NASA's next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope designed, Webb will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the very first galaxies ever formed and help identify unexplored planets around distant stars. The telescope will orbit approximately one million miles from Earth.

"The Webb telescope continues to make good technological progress," said Rick Howard, JWST Program Director in Washington. "We’re currently developing a new baseline cost and schedule to ensure the success of the program."

The telescope is a combined project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor under NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., is responsible for mirror development. L-3- Tinsley Laboratories Inc. in Richmond, Calif. is responsible for mirror grinding and polishing.

Philip
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posted 06-17-2011 04:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA feature
James Webb Space Telescope ISIM on 'Spin Cycle'

Prior to taking a new telescope into space, engineers must put the spacecraft and its instruments through a "spin cycle" test for durability to ensure they'll still work after experiencing the forces of a rocket launch. Finding out they don't work once they're in orbit is too late. The structure that houses the science instruments of the James Webb Space Telescope is undergoing that cycle of tests during the weeks of May 23 and 30 at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. This structure is called the Integrated Science Instrument Module, or ISIM.

The Webb telescope will experience significant shaking and gravitational forces when it is launched on the large Ariane V rocket. The ISIM structure will house the four main scientific instruments of the telescope.

During the testing process, as the ISIM structure is being spun and shaken, engineers take measurements to compare with their computer models. If there are discrepancies, the engineers hunt for the reasons so they can address them. The huge centrifuge will spin at speeds close to 11 rpm, exposing the ISIM structure to about 10 times the force of gravity.

Webb is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and will serve thousands of astronomers worldwide. Webb will study the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of planetary systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System. The Webb telescope is a joint mission of NASA, the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency.

Robert Pearlman
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Editor's note: The U.S. House of Representatives has proposed canceling the James Webb Space Telescope as part of cuts to NASA's 2012 Fiscal Year budget.

To keep this topic focused on JWST development efforts (so long as the telescope remains funded), please direct discussion of the budget to this thread.

Robert Pearlman
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NASA release
NASA's Webb Telescope Completes Mirror Coating Milestone

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has reached a major milestone in its development. The mirrors that will fly aboard the telescope have completed the coating process at Quantum Coating Inc. in Moorestown, N.J.

The telescope's mirrors have been coated with a microscopically thin layer of gold, selected for its ability to properly reflect infrared light from the mirrors into the observatory's science instruments. The coating allows the Webb telescope's "infrared eyes" to observe extremely faint objects in infrared light. Webb's mission is to observe the most distant objects in the universe.

"Finishing all mirror coatings on schedule is another major success story for the Webb telescope mirrors," said Lee Feinberg, NASA Optical Telescope Element manager for the Webb telescope at the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "These coatings easily meet their specifications, ensuring even more scientific discovery potential for the Webb telescope."


Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

Above: The first six flight ready James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror segments are prepped to begin final cryogenic testing at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The Webb telescope has 21 mirrors, with 18 mirror segments working together as one large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) primary mirror. The mirror segments are made of beryllium, which was selected for its stiffness, light weight and stability at cryogenic temperatures. Bare beryllium is not very reflective of near-infrared light, so each mirror is coated with about 0.12 ounce of gold.

The last full size (4.9-foot /1.5-meter) hexagonal beryllium primary mirror segment that will fly aboard the observatory recently was coated, completing this stage of mirror production.

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.

Mirror manufacturing began eight years ago with blanks made out of beryllium, an extremely hard metal that holds its shape in the extreme cold of space where the telescope will orbit. Mirror coating began in June 2010. Several of the smaller mirrors in the telescope, the tertiary mirror and the fine steering mirror, were coated in 2010. The secondary mirror was finished earlier this year.

Quantum Coating Inc. (QCI) is under contract to Ball Aerospace and Northrop Grumman. QCI constructed a new coating facility and clean room to coat the large mirror segments. QCI developed the gold coating for performance in certain areas, such as uniformity, cryogenic cycling, durability, stress and reflectance, in a two-year effort prior to coating the first flight mirror.

In the process, gold is heated to its liquid point, more than 2,500 Fahrenheit (1,371 degrees Celsius), and evaporates onto the mirror's optical surface. The coatings are 120 nanometers, a thickness of about a millionth of an inch or 200 times thinner than a human hair.

"We faced many technical challenges on the Webb mirror coating program," said Ian Stevenson, director of coating at Quantum Coating. "One of the most daunting was that all flight hardware runs had to be executed without a single failure."

The mirror segments recently were shipped to Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colo., where actuators are attached that help move the mirror. From there, the segments travel to the X-ray and Calibration Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., to undergo a final test when they will be chilled to -400 Fahrenheit (-240 degrees Celsius). The last batch of six flight mirrors should complete the test by the end of this year.

Robert Pearlman
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NASA release
Tests Under Way On The Sunshield For NASA's Webb Telescope

NASA is testing an element of the sunshield that will protect the James Webb Space Telescope's mirrors and instruments during its mission to observe the most distant objects in the universe.

The sunshield will consist of five tennis court-sized layers to allow the Webb telescope to cool to its cryogenic operating temperature of minus 387.7 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Kelvin).


Credit: NASA/Northrop Grumman

Above: The five-layer James Webb Space Telescope sunshield consists of thin membranes made from a polymer-based film and supporting equipment such as spreader bars, booms, cabling, and containment shells.

Testing began early this month at ManTech International Corp.'s Nexolve facility in Huntsville, Ala., using flight-like material for the sunshield, a full-scale test frame and hardware attachments. The test sunshield layer is made of Kapton, a very thin, high-performance plastic with a reflective metallic coating, similar to a Mylar balloon. Each sunshield layer is less than half the thickness of a sheet of paper. It is stitched together like a quilt from more than 52 individual pieces because manufacturers do not make Kapton sheets as big as a tennis court.

The tests are expected to be completed in two weeks.

"The conclusion of testing on this full size layer will be the final step of the sunshield's development program and provides the confidence and experience to manufacture the five flight layers," said Keith Parrish, Webb Sunshield manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

During testing, engineers use a high-precision laser radar to measure the layer every few inches at room temperature and pressure, creating a 3D map of the material surface, which is curved in multiple directions. The map will be compared to computer models to see if the material behaved as predicted, and whether critical clearances with adjacent hardware are achieved.

The test will be done on all five layers to give engineers a precise idea of how the entire sunshield will behave once in orbit. Last year, a one-third-scale model of the sunshield was tested in a chamber that simulated the extreme temperatures it will experience in space. The test confirmed the sunshield will allow the telescope to cool to its operating temperature.

After the full-size sunshield layers complete testing and model analysis, they will be sent to Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach Calif., where engineers verify the process of how the layers will unfurl in space. There the sunshield layers will be folded, much like a parachute, so they can be safely stowed for launch.

Robert Pearlman
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NASA release
NASA's Webb Telescope Flight Backplane Section Completed

The center section of the backplane structure that will fly on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has been completed, marking an important milestone in the telescope's hardware development. The backplane will support the telescope's beryllium mirrors, instruments, thermal control systems and other hardware throughout its mission.


Credit: NASA/ATK

Above: The center section of the James Webb Space Telescope flight backplane, or Primary Mirror Backplane Support Structure, at ATK's manufacturing facility in Magna, Utah.

"Completing the center section of the backplane is an important step in completing the sophisticated telescope structure," said Lee Feinberg, optical telescope element manager for the Webb telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "This fabrication success is the result of innovative engineering dating back to the technology demonstration phase of the program."

The center section, or primary mirror backplane support structure, will hold Webb's 18-segment, 21-foot-diameter primary mirror nearly motionless while the telescope peers into deep space. The center section is the first of the three sections of the backplane to be completed.

Measuring approximately 24 by 12 feet yet weighing only 500 pounds, the center section of the backplane meets unprecedented thermal stability requirements. The backplane holds the alignment of the telescope's optics through the rigors of launch and over a wide range of operating temperatures, which reach as cold as - 406 degrees Fahrenheit. During science operations, the backplane precisely keeps the 18 primary mirror segments in place, permitting the mirrors to form a single, pristine shape needed to take sharp images.

Robert Pearlman
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NASA release
First flight instrument delivered for James Webb Space Telescope

The first of four instruments to fly aboard NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) has been delivered to NASA. The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) will allow scientists to study cold and distant objects in greater detail than ever before.

MIRI arrived at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., on May 29. It has been undergoing inspection before being integrated into Webb’s science instrument payload known as the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM).

Assembled at and shipped from the Science and Technology Facilities Council's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom, MIRI was developed by a consortium of 10 European institutions and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., after having been handed over to the European Space Agency.

MIRI will observe light with wavelengths in the mid-infrared range of 5 microns to 28 microns, which is a longer wavelength than human eyes can detect. It is the only instrument of the four with this particular ability to observe the physical processes occurring in the cosmos.

"MIRI will enable Webb to distinguish the oldest galaxies from more evolved objects that have undergone several cycles of star birth and death," said Matt Greenhouse, ISIM project scientist at Goddard. "MIRI also will provide a unique window into the birth places of stars which are typically enshrouded by dust that shorter wavelength light cannot penetrate."

MIRI's sensitive detectors will allow it to observe light, cool stars in very distant galaxies; unveil newly forming stars within our Milky Way; find signatures of the formation of planets around stars other than our own; and take imagery and spectroscopy of planets, comets and the outermost bits of debris in our solar system. MIRI's images will enable scientists to study an object’s shape and structure.

Robert Pearlman
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NASA release (Jan. 24, 2014)
James Webb Space Telescope Passes a Mission Milestone

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has passed its first significant mission milestone for 2014 — a Spacecraft Critical Design Review (SCDR) that examined the telescope's power, communications and pointing control systems.

"This is the last major element-level critical design review of the program," said Richard Lynch, NASA Spacecraft Bus Manager for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "What that means is all of the designs are complete for the Webb and there are no major designs left to do."

During the SCDR, the details, designs, construction and testing plans, and the spacecraft's operating procedures were subjected to rigorous review by an independent panel of experts. The week-long review involved extensive discussions on all aspects of the spacecraft to ensure the plans to finish construction would result in a vehicle that enables the powerful telescope and science instruments to deliver their unique and invaluable views of the universe.

"While the spacecraft that carries the science payload for Webb may not be as glamorous as the telescope, it's the heart that enables the whole mission," said Eric Smith, acting program director and program scientist for the Webb Telescope at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "By providing many services including telescope pointing and communication with Earth, the spacecraft is our high tech infrastructure empowering scientific discovery."

Goddard Space Flight Center manages the mission. Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif., leads the design and development effort.

"Our Northrop Grumman team has worked exceptionally hard to meet this critical milestone on an accelerated schedule, following the replan," said Scott Willoughby, Northrop Grumman vice president and James Webb Space Telescope program manager in Redondo Beach, Calif. "This is a huge step forward in our progress toward completion of the Webb Telescope."

Robert Pearlman
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NASA release
NASA Administrator Bolden, Senator Mikulski View Progress on James Webb Space Telescope

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland congratulated the James Webb Space Telescope team Monday (Feb. 3) for the delivery of all flight instruments and primary mirrors to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Their comments came in a morning news conference at Goddard, where NASA's flagship science project will be assembled in preparation for launch in 2018.

"The Hubble Space Telescope has already rewritten the science books. Going from Hubble to the James Webb Space Telescope is like going from a biplane to the jet engine," said Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee that funds NASA. "As Chairwoman, I've continued to fight for funds in the federal checkbook to keep the James Webb Space Telescope mission on track, supporting jobs today and jobs tomorrow at Goddard. NASA Goddard is home to leaders in Maryland's space and innovation economies, making discoveries that not only win Nobel Prizes, but create new products and jobs. The James Webb Space Telescope will keep us in the lead for astronomy for decades to come, spurring the innovation and technology that keep America's economy rolling."

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will be the most powerful space telescope ever built, capable of observing the most distant objects in the universe, providing images of the first galaxies formed, and observing unexplored planets around distant stars. A joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Webb is the successor to the agency's Hubble Space Telescope.

All 18 of Webb's primary mirror segments are now housed in the Goddard clean room. Its 1.3 million cubic feet of dust-free space make the clean room one of the world's largest. All four of Webb's science instruments are within feet of the mirrors. The telescope's mirror and instruments will capture images of the universe and break down the spectra of incoming light to analyze the properties of galaxies, stars, and the atmospheres of planets beyond our solar system.

"The recent completion of the critical design review for Webb, and the delivery of all its instruments to Goddard, mark significant progress for this mission," said Bolden. "The design, build, delivery and testing of these components took meticulous planning and action here at Goddard and with teams across the country, as well as with our international partners. It's very exciting to see it all coming together on schedule. And I want to thank our good friend Senator Barbara Mikulski for her support. We wouldn't be here today without her championing of this critical capability for NASA. I know she understands just how important it is to continue to push the boundaries of what we can do in space."

"This past year has been one of significant progress for the Webb telescope," said Goddard Director Chris Scolese during the news conference. "The NASA Goddard team is working tirelessly with our partners to keep the program on track as we develop this newest scientific tool to explore the universe."

The news conference featured a video presentation hosted by Webb's deputy project manager and technical engineer, Paul Geithner, from inside the clean room. He explained how the 18 mirror segments will be coupled to form the massive space telescope's 21-foot-wide main mirror. This work, and the assembly of the rest of the telescope, will begin once the telescope structure arrives at Goddard.

"Each of these instruments has a unique function to collect data about the universe," Geithner said, pointing to four science instruments that will be located inside the heart of the telescope.

One of these instruments, the University of Arizona's Near-Infrared Camera, will be Webb's primary camera and will take images of the first stars and galaxies to form in the universe, along with many other astronomical targets.

A second instrument, ESA's Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), will analyze the spectra and composition of as many as 100 objects at once. Airbus Defence and Space, formerly known as EADS/Astrium, built NIRSpec with components provided by Goddard.

A third instrument, ESA's Mid-Infrared Instrument, has both a camera and a spectrograph, which sees light in the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum -- wavelengths longer than the human eye can see. This instrument was developed in collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

A fourth instrument, CSA's Fine Guidance Sensor and Near-infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph, will allow Webb to point precisely at its target in order to obtain high-quality images, and also will provide other valuable science modes for investigating both the distant universe and nearby exoplanets.

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems is building Webb's sunshield. Once in space, the sunshield will act as an umbrella to keep heat radiating from the sun and Earth from reaching scientific instruments that must stay cold to function properly. The Webb telescope will be fully assembled by 2016 and then moved to a clean room at NASA's Johnson Space Center for additional testing.

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