Space

Science payload installed aboard future James Webb Space Telescope

Science payload installed aboa...
NASA engineers at work installing the JWST science payload
NASA engineers at work installing the JWST science payload
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The ISIM unit is carefully lowered onto the back of the JWST, which is lying face down in the world's largest clean room located in Greenbelt, Maryland
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The ISIM unit is carefully lowered onto the back of the JWST, which is lying face down in the world's largest clean room located in Greenbelt, Maryland
NASA engineers at work installing the JWST science payload
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NASA engineers at work installing the JWST science payload

NASA engineers at theGoddard Space Flight Center have successfully installed the delicatecamera and spectrograph instruments onto the back of the James WebbSpace Telescope's (JWST) mirror assembly. The instrumentation wascontained within a single unit known as the Integrated ScienceInstrument Module (ISIM).

The final hexagonal section of the 21.4 ft (6.5 m) primary mirror was slotted into place on Feb 3, 2016, with the telescopic tripod mounted secondary mirror attached one month later.

With the mirrorsinstalled, the next nerve-racking step for the team at Goddard was toattach the cutting edge instrumentation designed to record the lightcollected by the gold coated mirrors, and turn it into actionableobservations.

Four scientificinstruments are housed in the ISIM unit – the Near-Infrared Camera,Near-Infrared Spectrograph, the Mid-Infrared Instrument, and the FineGuidance Sensor/Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph. Thisprimary payload will allow the JWST to make detailed observations ofthe earliest stars and galaxies, discoverpreviously undetectable exoplanets, and carry out a wide variety ofother functions.

The ISIM unit is carefully lowered onto the back of the JWST, which is lying face down in the world's largest clean room located in Greenbelt, Maryland
The ISIM unit is carefully lowered onto the back of the JWST, which is lying face down in the world's largest clean room located in Greenbelt, Maryland

It took two dozenengineers and some extremely precise crane-work to maneuver thehefty ISIM unit into place at the rear of the mirror assembly.Hardware for ISIM was extremely time consuming and expensive todevelop and fabricate, and so a lapse in concentration from anyengineer involved in the installation could have been catastrophicfor the JWST.

"This is a tremendousaccomplishment for our worldwide team," comments JWST ProjectScientist and Nobel Laureate John Mather. "There are vital instruments in thispackage from Europe and Canada as well as the US and we are so proudthat everything is working so beautifully, 20 years after we starteddesigning our observatory."

The telescope assemblyand scientific instrumentation contained in ISIM will be subjected toa series of acoustic and vibration tests, in an effort to ensure thehealth of the space telescope after what will undoubtedly be a bumpyride into orbit.

A video displaying the interior of the ISIM unit can be seen below.

Source: NASA

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