James Webb Space Telescope Already Producing Spinoffs

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You all know I’m into NASA spinoffs.  Anytime anyone pushes the envelope of technology in some way it sends ripples through other technologies and development paths in unforseen ways, and NASA generates some of the most under-reported spinoffs in our industry.  Techniques frequently need refinement for use in space exploration and get refined using NASA funded research and scientists.  Then those improvements feed back into our culture for the betterment of the lives of regular people, most of whom will never set foot on a spacecraft.

One example that I read about recently sprang from the James Web Space Telescope, which is currently under the budget ax in Congress. The JWST, successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, is an infrared telescope with 100 times the power of Hubble. It will orbit what’s called Earth’s L2 Lagrange point, a place permanently positioned with the Earth between it and the Sun. In its Lagrange orbit it will not fly so close to Earth as to hide in its shadow, however it will deploy a huge radiation shield so that its sensitive instruments will function without interference from the sun.  Most of the components for the telescope, including its eighteen mirror segments, are finished and await assembly.
Well, it seems that wavefront technology, used to measure the shape of the mirrors, is also used for measuring the shape of the eye when fitting contact lenses and planning Lasik surgery. Now refinement of wavefront technology for improvement of those mirrors has fed back into the medical industry and produced four new patents.

For more details on this development, click here…



JWST website…


Save the JWST website…


~ by Bill Housley on July 31, 2011.

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