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More delay, cost for NASA's next-generation space telescope

More delay, cost for NASA's next-generation space telescope

Technology
NASA's next-generation space telescope has been delayed yet again at a staggering cost of $ 1 million a day. For the third time in less than a year, the space agency announced a lengthy postponement Wednesday for the James Webb Space Telescope . The observatory will now fly no earlier than 2021; until last fall, it was on the books for a 2018 launch. The telescope's overall cost is now expected to reach nearly $ 10 billion. Development cost alone will exceed the $ 8 billion cap set by Congress by more than $ 800 million, and require reauthorization. An independent review board cites worker error and embedded hardware problems for much of the escalating costs and delays. In a vibration test of the telescope earlier this year in California by prime contractor Northrop Grumman, dozens of lo...
NASA engineers use gold to redirect excess heat from James Webb Telescope

NASA engineers use gold to redirect excess heat from James Webb Telescope

Science
June 5 (UPI) -- Engineers at NASA have found a way to redirect excess heat from the James Webb Telescope's most sensitive instruments. The telescope's four instruments are contained within the integrated science instrument module, or ISIM, which sits behind the array's main mirror. These sensitive instruments could be damaged or disrupted by excess heat, so scientists had to find a way to redirect thermal energy away from the ISIM. As detailed in a mission update published Tuesday by NASA, engineers are currently installing gold baffles that will channel thermal radiation away from the instruments and out into space. Gold also helps the telescope's mirrors direct infrared light toward the ISIM. "Gold has a very high reflectivity in the infrared spectrum range, so it is ideal for directin...
Hubble telescope has helped scientists better understand the cosmos

Hubble telescope has helped scientists better understand the cosmos

Science
April 20 (UPI) -- Today, astronomers know the age and size of the universe with greater certainty and precision than they did 28 years ago -- and it's all thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope."When I was a grad student 30 years ago, we were arguing about the size and scale of the universe," NASA scientist Dr. Jeff Hayes told UPI.Hayes has said those arguments featured estimates differing by a factor of two."Today, thanks to Hubbles' observations, we are down to a couple of percent," he said.Hubble was designed to measure the size and age of the universe, as well as the rate of its expansion, and it succeeded in doing just that. According to Hayes, this was Hubble's biggest breakthrough.Hubble was launched on April 19, 1990. The telescope celebrated its 28th anniversary, or birthday, on Thu...
NASA pushes back launch date for James Webb Space Telescope, again

NASA pushes back launch date for James Webb Space Telescope, again

Science
Sept. 29 (UPI) -- NASA's new target window for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope is between March and June 2019. The world's most powerful space telescope was previously scheduled to launch in October 2018."The change in launch timing is not indicative of hardware or technical performance concerns," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's D.C. headquarters, announced in a news release this week. "Rather, the integration of the various spacecraft elements is taking longer than expected."An international agreement with the European Space Agency required NASA to analyze the telescope's launch preparedness one year prior to the launch date. The assessment forced officials to reconsider their plans, and ultimately inspired NASA...
Scientists work to keep NASA's space telescope in the dark

Scientists work to keep NASA's space telescope in the dark

Science
Sept. 12 (UPI) -- NASA scientists are taking on the vital task of ensuring unwanted infrared light does not interfere with the optical testing of the James Webb Space Telescope."One of the challenges of testing an infrared telescope is that room-temperature objects [such as the walls of the vacuum chamber itself, or the warm electronics systems inside it] glow at the wavelengths of light that the telescope is trying to measure," Randy Kimble, a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a press release. "If not carefully controlled, that warm glow can provide an unwanted background in the telescope's images, which would compromise the optical testing."Due to the telescope's extreme sensitivity to infrared light, scientists are using a cold, gaseous helium sh...