Unique Cooler Successfully Passes Cold and Vibration Tests for JST

(June 15, 2016) NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s unique, first-of-its-kind cooler has recently completed testing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), developed by Northrop Grumman, was sent to JPL for testing to demonstrate its performance and verify its readiness for spaceflight. SpaceDaily.com reported, “The MIRI cooling system has four stages, chilling gas down successively to lower and lower temperatures. The first three stages make up the majority of the cooler and take place in the cold compressor assembly – the largest portion of the cooler.”

“That compressor, as well as its controlling electronics, recently passed cold and vibration tests at JPL,” according to SpaceDaily, “Engineers first fitted the compressor and their electronics into a special cold chamber and tested it, then they vibrated the compressor to mimic the effects of a rocket launch, and finally tested it once again in the cold chamber, checking-out its full range of performance.”

“MIRI will be the coldest instrument onboard the telescope,” according to SpaceDaily, and is “key to catching faint whispers of light from the very first stars born in our universe billions of years ago [… to] study other stars, exoplanets and galaxies.”

“The results showed that the device is twice as efficient as required,” said SpaceDaily. JST is scheduled to launch in 2018.

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