NASA’s Johnson Space Center selects Crystal Instruments’ High Channel Spider-80X Data Acquisition System for Environmental Testing of the James Webb Space Telescope

Crystal Instruments has received the impressive honor of supplying a 64 channel data acquisition system, the Spider-80X, for testing of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope project.

All devices have a definitive operational timeline and unfortunately, this does not exclude space telescopes. It will be bittersweet for all space enthusiasts to see the Hubble Space telescope retire, but an inevitable replacement for a most impressive 25-year-old technological achievement of modern society is looming.

The Hubble Space telescope (pictured above) took this image of the stunning Sombrero galaxy (M104) in 2004. It’s 50,000 light years across and is located 28 million light-years from Earth. The distinctive shape is caused by thick rings of dust toward the perimeter of the disc. Image credit: www.NASA.gov. This post is not endorsed by NASA. 

The Hubble Space telescope (pictured above) took this image of the stunning Sombrero galaxy (M104) in 2004. It’s 50,000 light years across and is located 28 million light-years from Earth. The distinctive shape is caused by thick rings of dust toward the perimeter of the disc. Image credit: www.NASA.gov. This post is not endorsed by NASA. 

Public denial aside, NASA has already begun preparing a replacement called the James Webb Space Telescope or JWST, expected of similar greatness for generations to come.

Artist rendition of the James Webb Space Telescope.  Image credit: www.NASA.gov. This post is not endorsed by NASA. 

Artist rendition of the James Webb Space Telescope.  Image credit: www.NASA.gov. This post is not endorsed by NASA. 

Quite a great deal of development and testing has already been carried out at the Johnson Space Center, including vibration measurements. Crystal Instruments has received the proud honor of supplying a 64 channel data acquisition system, the Spider-80X, for those endeavors. The system will be responsible for measuring vibration levels of the structure that will house the extremely sensitive optic system of the JWST telescope in a clean cryogenic chamber room.

The Pathfinder in front of the huge cryo-vacuum chamber at the Johnson Space Flight Center; the Pathfinder acts as a model of the real telescope optics’ housing. Image credit: www.NASA.gov. This post is not endorsed by NASA. 

The Pathfinder in front of the huge cryo-vacuum chamber at the Johnson Space Flight Center; the Pathfinder acts as a model of the real telescope optics’ housing. Image credit: www.NASA.gov. This post is not endorsed by NASA. 

This wouldn’t be the first time NASA teamed up with Crystal Instruments on this massive project. Earlier this year, preliminary testing was completed through Crystal Instruments’ rental program with The Modal Shop. The team rented a similar DAQ system for the OGSE2 test to understand the initial vibration levels of the Pathfinder telescope structure inside a cryogenic chamber. The optics of the telescope are so sensitive, that even vibration levels in the nano-meter range from machinery outside the chamber such as cryo-pumps, air handlers, water chiller pumps, etc., have the potential to affect their performance. The isolation mounting inside the chamber was not perfect at dampening the micro vibrations the first time around. Due to initial vibration environment findings, major changes were implemented to the design of the isolation structure in the chamber. The Crystal Instruments DAQ system was used in congruence with Kistler’s custom signal conditioners and cryogenic accelerometers.

Physical test setup of the Spider-80X system outside the cryogenic chamber at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. It is believed to be the largest of it’s kind and the only one capable of fitting the JWST.

Physical test setup of the Spider-80X system outside the cryogenic chamber at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. It is believed to be the largest of it’s kind and the only one capable of fitting the JWST.

The success of those results assured Crystal Instruments’ candidacy for continued testing on the 8 billion dollar project. The entire Crystal Instruments organization has been extremely excited about the participation.

  • Find out more about Crystal Instruments’ high channel data acquisition products here.
  • For sound and vibration instruments rental inquiries, please contact our affiliate The Modal Shop here.
  • Find more information on Kistler’s measurement systems and sensors here.

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