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For release: 05/14/03
Release #: 03-076

James Webb Space Telescope Advanced Mirror Demonstrator tests under way at NASA's Marshall Center

Photo description: A Marshall Center technician outfitted in a clean suit inspects a mirror assembly segment prior to installation in a cryogenic chamber for optical performance tests.

"Out-of-this-world" tests on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope mirror candidates will be conducted during the spring and summer months in a Marshall Center vacuum chamber cooled to approximate the supercold temperatures found in space.

Photo: A Marshall Center technician outfitted in a clean suit inspects a mirror assembly segment prior to installation in a cryogenic chamber for optical performance tests. (NASA/MSFC)


What: Testing of an Advanced Mirror System Demonstrator for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, is currently under way at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Two mirror technology candidates will undergo a battery of stringent optical performance tests under cryogenic (supercold) conditions during the spring and summer months. One technology will ultimately be chosen as the one to be pursued for the primary mirror of the Webb telescope.

The mirror now undergoing testing was built by Eastman Kodak Company, Commercial & Government Systems, Rochester, N.Y. The other candidate, built by Ball Aerospace, Boulder, Colo., is currently scheduled to begin testing in June 2003.

The James Webb Space Telescope project is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

This is an opportunity to see and photograph a unique testing process, under "out-of-this-world" conditions, on optics for a next-generation space telescope.

Who: A team of Marshall engineers and specialists will conduct tests and analyze results. Dr. H. Phillip Stahl from Marshall's Space Optics Manufacturing Technology Center is available for interviews about telescope mirror development and testing.

When: Interested media should call to schedule visits for coverage.

Where: Marshall Space Flight Center, X-Ray Calibration Facility

To attend: News media interested in this subject should contact the Marshall Media Relations Department at (256) 544-0034. Media must report to Gate 1, Martin Road exit at South Memorial Parkway. Vehicles are subject to security
search at the gate. News media will need two photo identifications and proof of car insurance. Visitor parking is available in front of Bldg. 4200 on the southwest side.
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For supporting materials for this news release, such as photographs, please visit the NASA Marshall Center Newsroom Web site at:

www.msfc.nasa.gov/news


For additional information on the James Webb Space Telescope, visit the Goddard Space Flight Center Web site at:

http://jwst.gsfc.nasa.gov/

QUICK FACTS: X-RAY CALIBRATION FACILITY

The X-Ray Calibration Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is the world's largest, most advanced laboratory for simulating X-ray and visible light emissions from distant celestial objects. The facility produces a space-like environment in which optical components for space telescopes can be tested and the quality of their performance in space predicted. The facility includes four buildings with an interconnecting evacuated pipe that extends approximately one-third mile in length.

The X-Ray Calibration Facility is a world-class facility uniquely qualified to test mirrors such as those of the James Webb Space Telescope. In operation since the mid-1970s, the facility was originally used to simulate X-ray emissions from distant celestial objects to measure the X-ray optical performance of the HEAO-B or Einstein Observatory. A 1999 facility improvement added a helium refrigeration unit and cryogenic shroud, making it possible to test visible optics at cryogenic temperatures. Technology upgrades have also reduced testing time and costs.

During its 27 years of operation, the facility has performed testing in support of a wide array of projects, including the Hubble Space Telescope, Solar A, Chandra technology development, Chandra High Resolution Mirror Assembly and science instruments, Constellation X-Ray Mission, and Solar X-Ray Imager, currently operating on a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.

Testing at the Marshall Center on the Advanced Mirror System Demonstrator for the Webb Telescope will be conducted in a vacuum chamber cooled to approximate the supercold temperatures found in space. Numerous measurements will be taken to predict future performance.

For more information:
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James Webb Space Telescope


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