Webb’s coldest instrument reaches operating temperature

Gray Frame Corner

Mid-Infrared Instrument

The UK’s main contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope, the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), has been carefully cooled to its operational temperature.

MIRI is the last instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope to reach the temperature required for scientific operations

White Frame Corner

The James Webb Space Telescope, known as Webb, is the largest, most powerful telescope ever launched into space and MIRI is one of four scientific instruments on board.

The coldest instrument

White Frame Corner
White Frame Corner

The James Webb Space Telescope will study the weirdly flickering black hole at the heart of our galaxy, the Milky Way, which has proved elusive for existing telescopes to explore.

James Edwin Webb was an American government official who served as the second appointed administrator of NASA during the 1960s. From 1961 to 1968, he ran the fledgling space agency and was largely responsible for its approach to the Apollo program and its success

MIRI was last to reach this important milestone as it operates at 7 kelvin (-266 Celsius), a colder temperature than the other instruments.

0218

Gray Frame Corner
Gray Frame Corner
White Frame Corner
White Frame Corner

Cryogenic Refrigerator

To reach this temperature, MIRI needed to be actively cooled by a cryogenic refrigerator, or cryocooler.

The cryocooler was specially developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) while the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) RAL Space in the UK were responsible for overall instrument thermal engineering.

I have been involved in the thermal design, analysis and testing for MIRI for almost 20 years so to finally see the instrument reaching 7 kelvin in space and well on its way to science operations is incredibly exciting.

Dr Bryan Shaughnessy

The UK played a major role by leading the European Consortium which, partnered with JPL and other US institutes, designed, built, and tested MIRI.

0218

Gray Frame Corner

A significant milestone

It is fantastic to know that the instrument has successfully reached operating temperature.

Gray Frame Corner

0218

HUBBLE CONFIRMS LARGEST COMET NUCLEUS EVER SEEN