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Amazing minaturized 'SIDECAR' drives Webb telescope's signal
Date:2/20/2008

galaxies. SIDECAR will sit next to each of these detectors like a sidecar on a motorcycle, and the microprocessor will control these infrared detectors.

SIDECAR will convert the analog signals from the infrared detectors into digital data which is much more robust and easier to transmit. Without the SIDECAR, the analog signals might be corrupted in transmission and the science images would be lost or damaged.

"The significant technical advancement in the SIDECAR is its very low noise - the analog to digital conversion is nearly perfect, adding no significant noise to the image; and its very low power - the SIDECAR consumes only 11milliwatts of power," said Markus Loose, lead designer of the SIDECAR at Teledyne. Low consumption of power is important for keeping the telescope's science instruments cold (37 Kelvin or minus 400 Fahrenheit) as they collect faint signals from objects near the edge of the universe.

It's important to make sure SIDECAR is fully functional before it goes into the Webb telescope, so it's already being used to improve astronomy on the ground.

Astronomers are "test-driving" four SIDECARs that were installed in early 2007 in the University of Hawaii's 2.2 meter telescope on Mauna Kea. Since then they have been collecting science data and giving scientists experience in operating the SIDECAR so that its performance is optimal by the time that the Webb telescope flies.

The concept for the SIDECAR was proposed in June 2000 through a program for Webb telescope technology development by the University of Hawaii and Teledyne Imaging Sensors, formerly the Rockwell Science Center. After seven years, the SIDECAR passed an important milestone in 2007 when an independent review team concluded that the technology had been shown to be ready for use on the Webb telescope. That test confirmed that SIDECAR could handle the radiation, vacuum, and the cold of the space environment.

As a result of SIDECAR's s
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Contact: Rob Gutro
Robert.J.Gutro@nasa.gov
301-286-4044
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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