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371 views • August 16, 2022

Too Big for the Door: How Engineers Installed a NASA Space Telescope Test Chamber

NASA’s upcoming SPHEREx space telescope needs a custom-built test chamber to make sure its cutting-edge instruments are ready to operate in space. The telescope will create a 3D map of the entire sky. And even though the telescope’s test chamber didn’t exactly travel cosmic distances, its journey to Caltech required careful orchestration. Built by the Korean Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI), the chamber required three years of design and construction, a monthlong boat ride across the Pacific Ocean, and a 30-ton crane to reach its destination at the university’s Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pasadena, California. It was too large to fit through the main entrance of its new home, so engineers used a crane to lift a removable section of the road out front and lower two sections of the chamber into the basement. The chamber is customized to calibrate the SPHEREx spectrometer. Spectroscopy data can reveal what an object is made of and be used to estimate an object’s distance from Earth. SPHEREx stands for the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer. Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech, SPHEREx is set to launch no earlier than June 2024. For more information about the SPHEREx mission, visit: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/spherex/ Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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