Model of Hubble successor’s key component loaned to National Space Centre by University’s Space Research Centre

Posted by uatemp13 at Jul 30, 2013 03:54 PM |
New long-term display at the National Space Centre in Leicester features test model of the Mid-Infra-Red Instrument (MIRI), a key part of landmark James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)
Model of Hubble successor’s key component loaned to National Space Centre by University’s Space Research Centre

The test model of MIRI, on display at the National Space Centre

The Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy has provided a full-size test model of the MIRI—a metre-long, metre-wide instrument with a camera and spectrograph that sees light in the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum, invisible to the naked eye. This allows it to map the depths of the universe— from the earliest galaxies and stars to form at high redshifts, to newly forming stars within our own galaxy.

The test model forms part of a long-term display at the National Space Centre, aiming to give the public a direct view of the hardware going into this landmark project—the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which the Space Research Centre’s JWST-MIRI team, led by Dr. John Pye (Space Research Centre Manager), have been working on for well over a decade, delivering the final flight model of MIRI last year. Since then, the team are continuing to work with NASA and colleagues around Europe in the integration and test activities in the USA, and currently focused at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington DC.

The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope was first discussed as early as 1993 and is due to be launched, following extensive testing by NASA in the US, in October 2018. Then, its mission will be to map some of the oldest and most distant objects in the Universe, such as the earliest galaxies and stars to form in the universe, and to examine the formation of planets and stars within our own galaxy.

The display will be updated as the JWST project continues to develop, with Dr. Pye and his colleagues at the University working with the National Space Centre to keep the public informed.

The JWST-MIRI project is led in Europe by Prof Gillian Wright (UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh) and UK participation is funded by the UK Space Agency. To date, the University has received more than two million pounds in research grants for its involvement in the project.