This is how Spain contributed to the launch of the new James Webb Space Telescope

This is how Spain contributed to the launch of the new James Webb Space Telescope

Written by David Barado.

The Telescope Location James Webb The new space telescope is the result of a collaboration between the US, European and Canadian space agencies (NASA, ESA and CSA, respectively). He is now on his way to his destination, Lagrange L2, millions of kilometers away in the opposite direction from Solar. It plans to operate for at least ten years after being launched with an Ariane 5 rocket from the European space port of Kauro in French Guiana on Christmas Day.

About 3,000 years ago, the mythical Ulysses traveled through unknown waters in the Mediterranean, exploring unknown lands over a 10-year voyage. On December 25, the James Webb Space Telescope launched, and, as happened at Odyssey, it will operate on the Sidelian Sea for at least a decade. Its development and construction require a long journey without risks.

Diagram of the path of the JWST and the major events of that journey until you reach the L2 logrange point. Attribution: ESA, NASA, CSA.

A telescope with Spanish technology

Two decades ago Spain was involved in its development, with the participation of Santiago Aribas and Louis Colinus, a researcher at the Higher Council for Scientific Research, in two of the four instrumentation scientific teams. NIRSPEC, developed by ESA, MIRI, a product of a European cooperation. In the latter case, as co-principal investigator of the instrument.

At the end of 2002 I joined the MIRI team as the head of the technical team Eva Diaz, And funds donated by the Ministry of Science and Technology to the National Institute of Aerospace Research. Thus, the two largest public research bodies, INTA and CSIC, combined their scientific and technological capabilities to participate in a grand space mission at a very relevant level.

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In INTA MIRI Telescope Simulator (MTS), an optical bench for MIRI testing at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (UK) before being exported to the US for integration with the telescope.

MTS was built and tested by a team of more than a dozen technicians at INTA facilities at the Torrejon de Ardos near Madrid in collaboration with several companies, of which the Spanish LIDAX was isolated and delivered to the consortium. 2011.

After months of intense calibration work, MIRI packaged and shipped by the end of 2013. Goddard Space Flight Center, And E.E. U.S.

MIRI and MTS integrated.
MIRI and MTS were packaged before being placed in the cryogenic chamber of the RAL. Attribution: INTA, CSIC, MIRI Consortium.

After the delivery of the various instruments, their integration into the laboratory, and the respective testing tasks, the various scientific teams continued to work diligently to prepare the science.

The goal is to optimize the guaranteed monitoring time for different teams as payment for equipment development. There are four main lines of research: the study of the universe when it was in its infancy, its properties, the galaxies it created, the life cycle of stars, and the planets.

Includes team of scientists and researchers at the Center for Astrobiology, a joint venture between INTA and CSIC. Almudena Alonso Herero Y Pablo Perez Gonzalez, Among others, have played a very active role in the definition of many programs and in fact have coordinated or promoted many of them, and have even led the competition proposals known as open time. Javier Alvarez Marquez.

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Spain needs a space agency

These extraordinary technical and scientific milestones have been achieved despite the reduction of funding and management systems that are not conducive to such activities in the medium and long term. Thus, once again, the need for the existence of a real Spanish space agency is clear, an autonomous body that plans and channels the resources invested in such activities.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the most sophisticated machine ever built, given its weight (about a quarter the size of a bus), the importance of its mission, and the complexity of its operation.

Within six months, after reaching point L2 and completing your instrument commissioning activities, you will begin to acquire scientific data.

This information will undoubtedly broaden our horizons: seeing the formation of the first galaxies on the edge of the physical, accessible universe; Temporary, looking farther and farther back in time; Knowledge by allowing us to analyze many astronomical phenomena.

Data is available to everyone. So, this is a great adventure for mankind, a journey like the motto of the Olympic movement. Fast high power (“Fast, high, strong”), which takes our imagination far beyond what we can even dream of.Conversation

David Barado Navasquez, Professor of Astrophysics Research, Center for Astrobiology (INTA-CSIC)

This article was originally published Conversation. Read Original.

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