The NASA Kepler mission is currently in its second phase of operation since the recovery of the craft and launch of K2. A couple of years ago Kepler lost some important technology and had to return to Earth, but now with K2 being launched, the campaigns can continue.
The mission still retains its original goal of discovering earth-like planets and determining if any are habitable.
Lenox Laser was responsible for fabricating what the scientists over at NASA call the Starfield Plate. This plate consists of stainless steel laser drilled with an array of holes as small as 3 microns in diameter with the purpose of performing photometry.
The STEREO probes continue to orbit the earth and obtain data despite completing its mission two years into the mission.October 1st, 2014, communications were disrupted between NASA and the Behind craft after a planned reset of the spacecraft’s systems. Ongoing attempts to resume communications with the Behind STEREO are happening. The two probes still monitor solar and heliospheric activity currently.
Lenox Laser fabricated custom parts and provided consulting services in support of testing the focus setting of one of the STEREO instruments during satellite integration at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Without the assistance of the company the project nearly ended, for our help NASA awarded our team the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Instrument Systems and Technology Division 2006 Contractor Team Spirit Award.
The Messenger mission came to an official end the previous year in 2015 with a planned impact with Mercury’s surface
The spacecraft began orbiting Mercury on March 17, 2011 and orbited a total of 4,105 times.The craft was successfully able to receive all the data it was sent to collect and more, wildly exceeding its expectations, recording information on magnetic anomalies, ice filled craters, and other previously undiscovered features of the planet. Lenox Laser was responsible for fabricating the High Power Ceramic Apertures used for spatial filtering aboard the NASA Messenger space craft. The filters were used to enhance the power of Messenger’s optics.
In 2006 Lenox Laser helped the NASA STEREO Mission get back on its feet by assisting on a critical test in which we precision drilled many optical apertures for the mission. STEREO is a solar observation mission that launched in 2006. It consists of two mostly identical spacecrafts which orbit the Sun. This has allowed them to preform steroscopic imaging of the Sun and other solar phenomena. You can see the the glorious results of the NASA STEREO Mission that Lenox Laser was essential in rescuing.
From left to right: Joseph d’Entremont, Alex Dudelzak, Greg Solyar, John Mather, and Reza Sarhangi
Earlier this month, on October 4, we had Dr John C Mather speak at our 2nd International Light Seminar. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006 for his part in the COBE mission regarding the Big Bang theory and the expansion of the universe.
On that very day, the Nobel Prize in Physics was given to another group of scientists also doing work on dark matter and the expansion of the universe, showing that it was in fact rapidly expanding, not slowing down as previously thought. You can read more about this year’s Nobel prize in their press releasehere. Dr Mather alluded to the recent prize and their work in his talk since it related specifically to the things he has studied. For Dr Mather’s talk, visit ourwebsiteand click on “Light Seminar”, orclick here.
For 30 years, Lenox Laser has been involved in numerous NASA missions, providing quality parts and expertise. So in anticipation of our 30th anniversary, we have put together those missions which we have been involved in.
It is truly amazing that we have some of our parts out in distant space providing critical data about our universe.
Only a few years after its invention, the LASER was used in NASA’s pre-Moon landing missions in 1967. The founder of our company, Joseph d’Entremont, was involved in the laser testing and laser measuring of the distance of the Moon from Earth. He provided the backup system, which was successfully used after the primary contractor’s system failed. He recalls that the power of the return signal he received was somewhere between a giga or terawatt.
Hubble Space Telescope:
We have had several parts on Hubble over the years. Starting in 1981, Lenox Laser provided precision crosshair fiducials and slits for the Hubble Instruments. We then twice provided custom stainless steel discs with crosses- in 1989 and 1991.
In 1985, Lenox Laser drilled precision holes in Hasteloy discs for the Galileo Mission to Jupiter. They were for the Helium Leak Detector on the spacecraft. Galileo spent 14 years in space-
7 to travel to Jupiter, and then 7 orbiting Jupiter and its moons.
Galileo was then intentionally crashed onto Jupiter at the end of its mission to prevent contamination.
1999 brought us the unique and monumental task of making a custom Starfield Plate for the Kepler Mission. This then led to the design and production of another “starfield” in 2000 for NASA’s “Starfield” Project. The project is part of a system that can find orbiting bodies around distant astronomical bodies by detecting miniscule changes in light intensity.
We then made High Power Ceramic Apertures for the Messenger Mission which were for spatial filtering. The Messenger, and our apertures, orbited Venus on the way to its goal Mercury, where it is currently gathering information about the planet. The parts were hand delivered to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Mercury Laser Altimeter Project:
In 2003, Lenox Laser provided flight quality Alumina and Macor apertures for NASA’s Mercury Laser Altimeter Project and the Space Lidar Technology Center.
Most recently, we provided custom parts and consulting services for NASA’s STEREO project which is providing revolutionary views of the Sun. The consulting was in support of testing the focus setting of one of the instruments during satellite integration at the Goddard Space Flight Center. As a result, Lenox Laser was awarded NASA’s Instrument and Technology Division 2006 Contractor Team Spirit Award.
To read more about our pioneering with NASA and their missions, click through the following links:
NASA’s Mercury MESSENGER Mission was launched from Cape Canaveral on August 3, 2004. Lenox Laser, Inc. was commissioned by NASA to fabricate High Power Ceramic Apertures for spatial filtering which required laser drilling holes (a few microns in diameter) with great accuracy and precision. Ceramic is just one of many readily available materials Lenox Laser is able to process to custom specifications with a relatively short lead time.
MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space, ENvironmental, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is scheduled to “flyby” Mercury on October 6, 2008, and ultimately be inserted in the planet’s orbit by March 18, 2011. The Lenox Laser engineering and production teams take great pride in their “microscopic” contribution to the advancement of our knowledge of the solar system and of the universe.