Space

April 24, 2012

NASA’s Webb telescope flight backplane section completed

NASA image
Artist's concept of the James Webb Space Telescope in orbit.

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.

“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 minus 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.

Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif., and its teammate ATK in Magna, Utah, completed construction of the center section. Northrop Grumman is under contract to Goddard for the design and development of Webb’s sunshield, telescope and spacecraft. ATK manufactured 1,781 composite parts of the center section using lightweight graphite materials and advanced manufacturing techniques.

Successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the Webb telescope is the world’s next-generation space observatory and will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. It will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the very first galaxies ever formed and study planets around distant stars. The Webb telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.


Did you enjoy or perhaps disagree with something in this article? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Don’t forget, you can sign up for our email newsletter or subscribe to our RSS feed to keep up with our latest headlines.



All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
NASA illustration

NASA awards radiation challenge winners, launches next round

NASA illustration This illustration depicts our heliosphere, showing the approximate locations of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. Galactic cosmic rays originate outside the heliosphere and stream in uniformly from all direc...
 
 
NASA photograph

Celebrate with NASA as agency commemorates Hubble’s 25th anniversary

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is turning 25 this year. The observatory has transformed our understanding of our solar system and beyond, and helped us find our place among the stars. NASA is celebrating the Hubble Space T...
 
 

ULA unveils America’s new rocket

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emmeil-0u5k&feature=player_embedded United Launch Alliance unveiled its Next Generation Launch System April 13 at the 31st Space Symposium. The new rocket, Vulcan, will transform the future of space by making launch services more affordable and accessible. The NGLS brings together decades of experience on ULA’s reliable Atlas and Delta vehicles, combin...
 

 
NASA/JHU APL/Carnegie Institution of Washington

NASA spacecraft achieves unprecedented success studying Mercury

NASA/JHU APL/Carnegie Institution of Washington NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft traveled more than six and a half years before it was inserted into orbit around Merc...
 
 

NASA selects American small business, research institution projects for further development

NASA has selected 149 research and technology proposals from American small businesses and research institutions that will enable NASA’s future missions into the solar system and beyond while benefiting America’s technology-driven economy right here on Earth. The selected proposals now will enter into negotiations for contract awards as part of Phase II of the agency’s...
 
 

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft nears historic encounter with Pluto

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is three months from returning to humanity the first-ever close up images and scientific observations of distant Pluto and its system of large and small moons. “Scientific literature is filled with papers on the characteristics of Pluto and its moons from ground based and Earth orbiting space observations, but we’ve never...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>