Space

April 9, 2014

Near Infrared Camera Integrated into space telescope

Lockheed Martin and the University of Arizona have delivered the primary imaging instrument of the James Webb Space Telescope to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The new Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, has been successfully integrated within the heart of the telescope, known as the Integrated Science Instrument Module. The integration completes the suite of four instruments that together will explore the mysteries of the deep universe upon launch in 2018.

NIRCam will function as the central imaging component of JWST. Designated one of the NASA’s three highest mission priorities, the Webb telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

NIRCam was designed, built, and tested by a University of Arizona / Lockheed Martin team at the company’s Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif., under the leadership of Principal Investigator Marcia Rieke, a Regents’ Professor at the Arizona Department of Astronomy/Steward Observatory. Lockheed Martin is responsible for the optical, mechanical, structural, thermal and electronic precision mechanisms and the control software of NIRCam, while its advanced infrared detector arrays come from Teledyne Imaging Systems.

“Integration of NIRCam into ISIM is a major step forward in the progress of the Webb telescope,” said Jeff Vanden Beukel, Lockheed Martin NIRCam program director. “Now, NIRCam and the other instruments will be tested to prove their ability to function as a unit.”

As the space telescope’s prime camera, NIRCam will make JWST the most powerful space telescope ever built, enabling it to peer deeper into space and further back in time than any other instrument before. With its 6.5-meter (21-foot) mirror, JWST will allow observation of the most distant objects in the universe.

“The instrument operates out to wavelengths about ten times that of visible light, letting it search for the first galaxies. It is the cosmic redshift that has moved the outputs of these ‘first light’ sources into the infrared where NIRCam operates. We will survey selected regions on the sky to find candidates; the other instruments on JWST can then probe these objects in detail to test if they really are that young,” Rieke explained. “NIRCam can also peer through the clouds of gas and dust that hide the first stages when stars and planets are born and will provide insights into how planetary systems form and evolve around distant stars.”

NIRCam is comprised of many cutting-edge technologies, such as the infrared detector arrays themselves, a complex optical system based on lenses rather than the mirrors used in most infrared instruments, and devices to measure the optical performance of the JWST telescope and allow adjustments to keep it operating correctly.

Upon launch, JWST will be operated as an observatory open by competitive proposal to astronomers worldwide. The astronomy community is eagerly anticipating data from the mission, which is not only much larger than Hubble but covers the longer-wavelength infrared spectral range with unprecedented capabilities.




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


 
 

 
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA spacecraft nears historic dwarf planet arrival

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA NASA’s Dawn spacecraft took these images of dwarf planet Ceres from about 25,000 miles away Feb. 25, 2015. Ceres appears half in shadow because of the current position o...
 
 

Northrop Grumman’s AstroMesh reflector successfully deploys for NASA’s SMAP satellite

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully deployed the mesh reflector and boom aboard the Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft, a key milestone on its mission to provide global measurements of soil moisture. Launched Jan. 31, SMAP represents the future of Earth Science by helping researchers better understand our planet. SMAP’s unmatched data capabilities are enabled...
 
 
NASA photograph by Brian Tietz

NASA offers space tech grants to early career university faculty

NASA photograph by Brian Tietz Tensegrity research is able to simulate multiple forms of locomotion. In this image, a prototype tensegrity robot reproduces forward crawling motion. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Director...
 

 

NASA releases first global rainfall, snowfall map from new mission

Like a lead violin tuning an orchestra, the GPM Core Observatory – launched one year ago on Feb. 27, 2014, as a collaboration between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency – acts as the standard to unify precipitation measurements from a network of 12 satellites. The result is NASA’s Integrated Multi-satellite Retrievals for GPM...
 
 

New NASA Earth Science Missions expand view of our home planet

Four new NASA Earth-observing missions are collecting data from space with a fifth newly in orbit ñ after the busiest year of NASA Earth science launches in more than a decade. On Feb. 27, 2014, NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory into space from Japan. Data from...
 
 

NASA, ESA telescopes give shape to furious black hole winds

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and ESA’s (European Space Agency) XMM-Newton telescope are showing that fierce winds from a supermassive black hole blow outward in all directions – a phenomenon that had been suspected, but difficult to prove until now. This discovery has given astronomers their first opportunity to measure the strength of these...
 




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>