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-cassini

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of new Saturn moon

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons. Images taken w...
 
 

NASA completes LADEE mission with planned impact on Moon’s surface

Ground controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon, as planned, between 9:30 and 10:22 p.m., PDT, April 17. LADEE lacked fuel to maintain a long-term lunar orbit or continue science operations and was intentionally sent...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Kepler telescope discovers first Earth-size planet in ‘habitable zone’

Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four inner planets, seen lined up...
 

 

Lockheed Martin solar ultraviolet imager installed on GOES-R weather satellite

Lockheed Martin has delivered a new solar analysis payload that will help scientists measure and forecast space weather, which can damage satellites, electrical grids and communications systems on Earth. The Solar Ultraviolet Imager instrument was integrated with the first flight vehicle of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationís next-generation Geostationary Operational Environm...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft powers through first integrated system testing

Lockheed Martin photograph Engineers in the Operations and Checkout Building at NASAís Kennedy Space Center in Florida, perform avionics testing on the Orion spacecraft being prepared for its first trip to space later this yea...
 
 

NASA signs agreement with SpaceX for use of historic launch pad

NASA Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Complex 39A, the site from which numerous Apollo and space shuttle missions began, is beginning a new mission as a commercial launch site. NASA signed a property agreement with Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., on Monday for use and occupancy of the seaside complex along Florida’s...
 




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>