(April 22nd, 2016) The James Webb Space Telescope had an “observatory core” test model twin of itself constructed for the biggest thermal test Goddard mechanical integration technician, Chris Matthews, has ever had.
Matthews’ team of technicians put together the model, according to Phys.org, which will “stand in for the real thing in an upcoming test at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Dubbed Core-2, the test will verify that Webb can regulate its core body temperature to the correct specifications.”
“Webb is an infrared telescope, which means errant heat from the sun, or even a tiny bit from the observatory’s own electronics, could blind it as it peers into the darkness, looking for the most distant galaxies in the universe,” explained Phys.org, “Most of the heat flow through the observatory happens in its core region,” and in its fully deployed configuration, cooling down to a stable operating temperature will take a long time.
Webb is enormous, however, and a fully deployed Webb won’t fit inside NASA’s testing chambers. This is why a model of only its core was built. “The extra effort to build a full-scale, flight-like model [of the fully deployed core] is worth it because it’s the only way to test Webb’s core region and measure heat flow through it, and managing heat flow and controlling temperature is one of Webb’s biggest requirements,” reported Phys, “ In flight, nearby heat sources – like instrument module control electronics emitting around 200 watts only a few feet away – could blind Webb’s sensitive infrared sensors, which are designed to observe distant objects in the universe by detecting their heat output.”
Phys.org added that the Core-2 test started in mid-April, and it is the only time the thermal center of Webb is being tested.
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