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Lab technology aboard the James Webb Space Telescope

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Last month, NASA’s james webb space telescope A partnership with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency (JWST) has revealed an unprecedented detailed view of the universe. Full color image and spectral data.

The space objects Webb targeted for these first observations were released on July 12th and are available at NASA. website.

But these images and data are Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) thanks to detector software support and the development of grisms (combinations of prisms and gratings arranged so that light of a selected central wavelength passes straight through them, also known as grating prisms).

A team of LLNL engineers Zinc selenide grisms for near-infrared imagers and slitless spectrographs, the Canadian instrument on board the JWST. Grism operates in the wavelength range of 0.6 to 3.0 micrometers and its main scientific goal is to perform exoplanet transit spectroscopy.

LLNL’s Paul Kuzmenko and Steve Little played a key role in building and testing Grism, which was delivered to the Canadian Space Agency in 2012.

“The resolution and detail in the photos are amazing, but I was more impressed with the infrared spectrum of the exoplanet Wasp 96B, which shows evidence of water vapor,” Kuzmenko said. “I have been building and operating spectral instruments for many years. To do.””

Spectra can directly identify the material composition of objects that are not directly accessible. Much of what we know about the composition of celestial bodies comes from spectroscopy. The element helium was first observed in the Sun’s spectrum before its existence was discovered on Earth.

But LLNL’s contribution doesn’t stop there. in his PhD. According to the study, LLNL computational engineer Lance Sims had the opportunity to intern at Teledyne Imaging Sensors. At Teledyne Imaging Sensors, the company had developed the firmware to control his Webb’s infrared detectors. Shortly after Simms joined his LLNL in 2011, NASA contacted him and informed him that some of the code he wrote during his internship was used in his JWST firmware. He then joined the JWST team as a detector consultant for NIRCam, NIRSpec, and he FGS/NIRISS instruments. For almost ten years as an LLNL employee, Simms has written firmware to optimize the performance of these devices and helped identify and fix bugs in their code.

“The imagery produced by JWST is incredible,” said Simms. “JWST proves that good things come to those who wait, and that together we can achieve the nearly impossible.”

The release of these first images marks the official beginning of Webb’s scientific work, which will continue to explore key scientific themes of the mission. The team has already applied through a competitive process for time to use the telescope, what astronomers call the first “cycle” or first year.

JWST is one of the world’s leading space science observatories. Webb solves the mysteries of our solar system, sees distant worlds around other stars, and explores the mysterious structure and origins of the universe and our place in it.