New NASA video serves 'COCOA' to test Webb Telescope component

Nov 22, 2012 by Rob Gutro
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., recently completed testing of COCOA. The work was done in the X-ray and Cryogenic Test Facility. The optical assembly was operated in a vacuum at both room temperature and cryogenic -- or deep cold -- temperatures to certify its performance before it is used to test the performance of Webb's 21.3-foot primary mirror. Credit: NASA Marshall

(Phys.org)—The Center of Curvature Optical Assembly, or COCOA, is a piece of equipment that will measure the accuracy of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope's primary mirror, to ensure the mirrors are perfectly shaped and will work in the frosty environment of space. Viewers can now learn about a certain type of "COCOA" from an engineer in a new behind-the-scenes NASA video that explains the purpose of COCOA and how it is used in testing the mirrors.

The video was filmed at ITT Exelis in Rochester, N.Y. It was produced at NASA Television, located at NASA's Goddard Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and runs 1 minute and 46 seconds.

COCOA was built by ITT Exelis of Rochester, N.Y., and its subcontractor Micro Instruments in Rochester, N.Y. Recently, testing on COCOA was completed in the X-ray and Cryogenic Test Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., to ensure that it could stand up to the extremely cold environment that it will experience when it is used to test the Webb's mirrors at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

The COCOA contains mechanical and optical instruments that will check the alignment of the Webb telescope's 18 segments that form the large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) primary mirror.

COCOA's purpose is to verify the optical performance of the at its 40 degrees Kelvin (-387.67 Fahrenheit, or -233 Celsius) operating temperature. During the optical test at NASA's Johnson Space Center, COCOA will be located inside the cryogenic vacuum chamber along with the Webb's telescope and science instruments.

Once the telescope and the science instruments are assembled together at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., they will be put into a huge cryogenic vacuum chamber at NASA Johnson. The COCOA will be placed above the Webb's telescope and instruments, near the top of the giant testing chamber, where it will project light onto all of the mirrors and into the instruments to determine if the alignment and curvature of all 18 mirror segments are correct and working together as one large mirror.

The is the world's next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Webb telescope will provide images of the first galaxies ever formed, and will explore planets around distant stars. It is a joint project of , the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Explore further: First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Taking COCOA cryo

Sep 28, 2012

(Phys.org)—Testing of the James Webb Space Telescope's Center of Curvature Optical Assembly, or COCOA, recently was completed in the X-ray and Cryogenic Test Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center ...

Recommended for you

Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

1 hour ago

Kazakhstan's first-ever Earth observation satellite is to be fired into orbit next week from the European spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana, launch company Arianespace said.

Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

4 hours ago

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth ...

First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

20 hours ago

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth ...

Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

Kazakhstan's first-ever Earth observation satellite is to be fired into orbit next week from the European spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana, launch company Arianespace said.

Professional and amateur astronomers join forces

(Phys.org) —Long before the term "citizen science" was coined, the field of astronomy has benefited from countless men and women who study the sky in their spare time. These amateur astronomers devote hours ...

First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...