James Webb Space Telescope's 'chassis' gets taken out for a spin at NASA

Mar 09, 2011 By Rob Gutro
The centrifuge at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. that will spin the ISIM. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

The Integrated Science Instrument Module, or ISIM, is the structural heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, what engineers call the main payload. It will house the four main scientific instruments of the telescope. The ISIM is like a chassis in a car providing support for the engine and other components.

Webb will undergo significant shaking when it is launched on the large Ariane V rocket. To be sure the telescope's "chassis" is ready for this "bumpy road," the ISIM is subjected to some extreme testing. During the testing process, the ISIM is spun and shaken while many measurements are taken. Afterwards, engineers compare the measurements with their models of the ISIM. If there are discrepancies, then the engineers track down why, and make corrections.

Engineers inspect the ISIM in a clean room at NASA Goddard. ISIM is the structural heart of the James Webb Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

Webb will be the first next-generation large space observatory and will serve thousands of astronomers worldwide. Designed to detect light from as far away as approximately 14 billion light years, Webb will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the , to the formation of planetary systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System. The Webb telescope is a joint mission of , the and Canadian Space Agency.

Explore further: Spacecraft Integral manoeuvres for the future

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA's Webb telescope's systems engineering evolves

Oct 18, 2010

As the James Webb Space Telescope enters its next critical phase of development NASA and Northrop Grumman Corporation have forged an integrated, consolidated and "badgeless" Mission Systems Engineering team.

Recommended for you

Spacecraft Integral manoeuvres for the future

37 minutes ago

Since 2002, ESA's Integral spacecraft has been observing some of the most violent events in the Universe, including gamma-ray bursts and black holes. While it still has years of life ahead, its fuel will ...

Huge asteroid 2004 BL86 to fly by Earth

1 hour ago

Asteroid 2004 BL86, slated to swoosh by Earth on Jan. 26, is the largest known body to pass near our home planet until 2027. But there's no need to panic as the astronomers estimate that the 500 meters-wide ...

NASA craft set to beam home close-ups of Pluto

16 hours ago

Nine years after leaving Earth, the New Horizons spacecraft is at last drawing close to Pluto and on Sunday was expected to start shooting photographs of the dwarf planet.

Elon Musk's SpaceX drops lawsuit against Air Force

Jan 25, 2015

A spacecraft company run by billionaire Elon Musk has dropped a lawsuit alleging the U.S. Air Force improperly awarded a contract to launch military satellites to a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed ...

NASA spacecraft almost to Pluto: Smile for the camera!

Jan 23, 2015

It's showtime for Pluto. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has traveled 3 billion miles and is nearing the end of its nine-year journey to Pluto. Sunday, it begins photographing the mysterious, unexplored, icy ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.