Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hardware Entering Key Test Phase for the James Webb Space Telescope Flagship Program Project

James Webb Space Telescope 

hardware entering key test phase

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""An array of high tech instruments are being put through their paces ahead of becoming part of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope – JWST engineers are currently testing hardware to ensure it will be able to function properly 1.5 million miles from Earth. The spacecraft is preparing for a launch late in 2018.

JWST:

Set for launch in October, 2018 via an Ariane 5 launch vehicle, JWST will be the scientific successor to the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes.
The hugely expensive project came close to cancellation in 2011, after the program suffered with schedule slips and budget overruns. With $3 billion already spent on the JWST program, along with 75 percent of its hardware already in production, the telescope was given a stay of execution, albeit with costs capped at $8 billion.
It was originally forecast to cost just $1.6 billion.
JWSTThe project has NASA, ESA and the CSA as the lead partners, but includes a collaboration of about 17 countries in total.
To be located 1.5 million kilometers from Earth at the Earth-Sun Lagrangian point L2, JWST’s 6.5-meter diameter primary mirror – a gold coated beryllium reflector – and four specialized instruments ensure the spacecraft will provide unprecedented resolution and sensitivity from long-wavelength visible to the mid-infrared.
Unlike Hubble’s single monolithic primary mirror, JWST’s primary mirror is made up of 18 individual, adjustable segments that will be aligned in space.
2015-01-07 19_56_13-nircam1.jpg (720×653)The spacecraft’s array of instrumentation is currently being tested to ensure it can survive the extremes of space, with the most recent test involving the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) instrument, which is the primary imager covering the infrared wavelength range 0.6 to 5 microns.
NIRCam will detect light from the earliest stars and galaxies in the process of formation, the population of stars in nearby galaxies, as well as young stars in the Milky Way and Kuiper Belt objects.
NIRCam is equipped with coronagraphs, instruments that allow astronomers to take pictures of very faint objects around a central bright object, like stellar systems. Its coronagraphs work by blocking a brighter object’s light, making it possible to view the dimmer object nearby.
2015-01-07 19_55_13-Satnews Publishers_ Daily Satellite NewsWith the coronagraphs, astronomers hope to determine the characteristics of planets orbiting nearby stars, which is of great interest over recent years,thanks to the discoveries made by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. ""

Find out more @ nasaspaceflight.com
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