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ESA to set tiny hair-like Webb Telescope microshutters
Date:6/29/2010

objects shine through. To get an idea of how these tiny little "hairlike" shutters work, think about how a person raises their hand in front of their eyes to block the sunshine while trying to look at a traffic signal. Microshutters block excess light to see a dim object by blocking out brighter sources of light in the cosmos.

The microshutters were designed, built and tested at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. specifically for the James Webb Space Telescope. They are unique to the Webb telescope.

They will work with the Near Infrared Spectrograph or NIRSpec. That instrument will break up the light from the galaxies into a rainbow of different colors, allowing scientists to determine the kinds of stars and gasses that make up the galaxies and measure their distances and motions. The microshutters help the NIRSpec to separate the light while observing up to 100 objects at the same time, because the microshutter system controls how light enters the NIRSpec.

Engineers at the European Space Agency at EADS/Astrium in Ottobrunn, Germany, a suburb of Munich will install the microshutters into the NIRSpec instrument. Once installed, ESA will conduct further testing on the entire instrument. Once those tests are complete and the NIRSpec is fully-functional and passes all tests, the NIRSpec will return to NASA Goddard to be placed on the main Webb telescope.

The telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.


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Contact: Rob Gutro
Robert.J.Gutro@nasa.gov
443-858-1779
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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