The second of the four major scientific instruments of the James Webb Space Telescope, known as the Medium Infrared Instrument (MIRI), has completed preparations for launch and is now ready for science.
The last MIRI mode that needed to be disabled was its corona image feature, which uses two different styles of masks to intentionally lock starlight from getting into its sensors when trying to observe the planets of a star orbiting. These individual masks allow scientists to directly detect exoplanets and learn dust drives around their hostess stars like never before.
Along with three other Webb instruments, MIRI initially cooled in the shade of a solar shield the size of Webb’s tennis court to about 90 Kelvin (minus 298 degrees Fahrenheit or minus 183 degrees Celsius). To carry out the intended science meant lowering the temperature below 7 Kelvin – just a few degrees above the lowest temperature that matter can reach – using an electrically powered cryocooler. These extreme operating temperatures allow MIRI to transmit images and spectra in the mid-infrared range with an unprecedented combination of sharpness and sensitivity.
“We are thrilled that MIRI is now working, a modern tool with performance in all its capabilities better than expected. Our multinational commissioning team has done a fantastic job of preparing MIRI in just a few weeks. We are now celebrating all the people, scientists, engineers, managers, national agencies, ESA and NASA, who have made this tool a reality when MIRI begins to explore the infrared universe in a way and at depths never before, ”said Gillian Wright, Principal Investigator. MIRI at the Center for Astronomical Technology in the UK and George Ricke, MIRI’s head of science at the University of Arizona, were developed as part of a partnership between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency), with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory leading the U.S. and multinational consortium. your contribution to ESA.
After the commissioning of NIRISS and MIRI, the Webb team will continue to focus on disabling the other two modes on other devices. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope in partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA will publish its first full-color images and spectroscopic data on July 12, 2022.
Citation: Another Webb telescope instrument received “science” (June 30, 2022), obtained June 30, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-webb-telescope-instrument-science.html
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