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The space telescope James Webb of NASA completes final operating tests to prepare for launch.



The final functional performance testing was completed in Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California in February for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. The two major milestones in testing teams successfully confirmed that the internal electronics of the observatory all work according to the design and that the spacecraft and its four scientific instruments can send and receive data properly through the same space-saving network. These milestones bring Webb closer to its October launch.


These tests are referred to at Northrop Grumman as a comprehensive system test, together with the ground segment test, conducted in collaboration with the Baltimore Space Telescope Science Institute.


A complete scan, called a complete system test, was conducted by technicians prior to the launch environment test. This evaluation established a basis for the entire observatory's electro-functional performance and all the many components that work together to make up the world's first space scientist. After environmental testing was completed, engineers and technicians went on to carry out another comprehensive system test and compared the data between the two. After examining the data carefully, the team confirmed that the rigor of the launch will be survived both mechanically and electronically.


During 17 consecutive days of system testing, technicians powered and ran their planned operations through all of Webb's various power components to ensure each one worked and communicated with the other. The "A" and "B" sides are all-electric bins in the telescope, enabling redundancy and flexibility to be added in the flight. All the telemetry received and all-electric boxes during the test were correctly inputted, and every side of the backup worked as planned.


Jennifer Love-Pruitt, Northrop Grumman's leading electric car engineering team at the Internet observer, said: "It was incredible to witness the level of expertise, commitment, and cooperation across the whole team during this important milestone. "It is certainly a proud moment because Webb's electrical availability has been shown. If this test is successfully completed, we can also move on to start and operate on-orbit."


The recent system scan from Webb confirms that the observatory resists the launch environment.




After the final comprehensive systems assessment was completed, technicians immediately began preparations for their next major milestone called a ground segment test. This test has been designed to simulate the entire process from the planning of scientific observations to the publication of scientific information.


The final test for Webb's ground segment started with the first simulation of a plan which would be followed by every scientific instrument. The Webb's Mission Operations Center (MOC) in the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) at Baltimore then transmitted commands to sequentially activate, move and operate each of four scientific instruments. The observatory is treated as one thousand miles in orbit during the test.


The final test for Webb's ground segment started with the first simulation of a plan which would be followed by every scientific instrument. The Webb's Mission Operations Center (MOC) in the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) at Baltimore then transmitted commands to sequentially activate, move and operate each of four scientific instruments. The observatory is treated as one thousand miles in orbit during the test.


In order to do this, the spacecraft was connected to the Deep Space Network by the flight operations team, an international range of giant radio antennas used by NASA for communicating with many spacecraft. But since Webb is not yet in space, the real link between Webb and Deep Space Network has been emulated with special equipment in order to imitate the real radio connections in orbit. The commands were then transmitted to the observatory in Northrop Grumman through the Deep Space Network emulator.


A unique aspect of the Webb final ground segment test was the seamless switching from its Primary MOC in STScI in Baltimore to the backup MOC in the NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland during a simulated flight environment. This showed a backup plan that is not expected to be necessary but must be implemented and perfect before launch. In addition, during their controlled operations team members successfully sent several software patches to the Observatory.


"Working in a pandemic environment is, of course, a challenge and the nuances of our teamwork excellently. This is a very positive thing to emphasize, and not just for the test, but for all the tests we have carried out safely before it, "Bonnie Seaton said, Goddard's deputy segment ground & operations manager. "Working over many months, our systems, procedures, and products are mature, and our team's proficiency is a result of this recent success."

If there is Webb in space, commands are sent from STScI to one of three locations within the deep space network: Goldstone, California; Madrid, Spain; or Canberra, Australia. Signals are then sent nearly one million miles away to the orbiting observatory. Furthermore, NASA's Satellite tracking and data relay network — the New Mexico Space Network, Malindi European Space Agency in Kenya, and the European Space Operations Center in Germany — will help maintain a constantly open line of web communication.


In line with existing CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines related to COVID-19 and including mask-wearing or social distancing, engineers and technicians continue to follow individual security procedures. The team is currently preparing for the next series of technical milestones, including the final folding and use of the mirror before shipment to the launch site. Before shipment.


A final sun shield fold and an ending mirror deployment are the next series of milestones for Webb.



 

Source Phys.org and NASA's Goddard Space flight center.




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