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: Liquid crystal bubble OASIS in space

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

Liquid crystal bubble OASIS in space

3 hours ago

No matter how beautiful or crystal clear the bubbling waters of an oasis may be, they seldom lead to technology breakthroughs. Yet, NASA's OASIS investigation's bubbles may lead to an ocean of new improvements ...

Zapping away space junk

13 hours ago

Planet Earth is surrounded. Thousands of tons of dangerous space debris circle in low orbit, threatening serious damage, even death, if any were to strike the International Space Station. A proposal by a ...

Ariane 5's first launch of 2015

14 hours ago

An Ariane 5 has lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana and delivered two telecom satellites into their planned orbits.

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.