NASA Kepler Mission: Update

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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.

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NASA Stereo Mission: Update

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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.

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NASA Messenger Mission: Update

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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.

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Nobel Physics Prizes and 2nd International Light Seminar

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2nd International Light SeminarFrom 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 release here. 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 our website and click on “Light Seminar”, or click here.

Lenox Laser and NASA- Pioneering in Space

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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.

 

Exoplanet conceptualization. Credit: NASA
Exoplanet conceptualization. Credit: NASA

 

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.

Galileo Mission:
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.
Galileo spacecraft. Credit: NASA
Galileo spacecraft. Credit: NASA

Kepler Mission:
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.

Messenger Mission:
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.

 

Light echo from a star. Credit: NASA Hubble
Light echo from a star. Credit: NASA Hubble

 

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.

STEREO Mission:
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:

General information
Hubble Space Telescope
Galileo Mission
Kepler Mission
Messenger Mission
STEREO Mission


Nasa Stereo Mission

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NASA’s recent STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) project is a mission to capture the sun in three dimensions. The two-year long project involves having two near-identical telescopes (one ahead of earths’ orbit and one behind) to record the behavior of the sun, studying phenomena like coronal mass ejections.

Lenox Laser fabricated custom parts for the Government 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.

Lenox Laser’s role was critical to a successful test. As a result, Lenox Laser was awarded the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Instrument Systems and Technology Division 2006 Contractor Team Spirit Award.

NASA’s STEREO Mission

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A close up of loops in a magnetic active region, observed by STEREO's SECCHI/EUVI telescope. This powerful active region, observed here on Dec. 4, 2006 produced a series of intense flares over the next few days. Credit: NASA
A close up of loops in a magnetic active region, observed by STEREO’s SECCHI/EUVI telescope. This powerful active region, observed here on Dec. 4, 2006 produced a series of intense flares over the next few days. Credit: NASA

 

NASA’s recent STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) project is a mission to capture the sun in three dimensions. The two-year long project involves having two near-identical telescopes (one ahead of earths’ orbit and one behind) to record the behavior of the sun, studying phenomena like coronal mass ejections.
Lenox Laser fabricated custom parts for the government 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.

Lenox Laser’s role was critical to a successful test. As a result, Lenox Laser was awarded the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Instrument Systems and Technology Division 2006 Contractor Team Spirit Award.

Venus Transit Over the Sun

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On June 8th, Pastor Tom Cordock from Lenox Laser brought his telescopes and binoculars equipped with special optics to view the Venus transit over the sun. He was able to capture some magnificent photos of this historic event which are shown at the bottom right. This special event last happened in 1882 and British astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks recorded the first transit of Venus across the sun in 1639. You will have to wait until June 6, 2012 to see this again.

For more information, pictures, and movies about this unique historic event please visit Venus Transit 2004

Lenox Laser is also playing a role in the Messenger Mission which should be taking off this month and begin its voyage around Venus in order to study the innermost planet, Mercury.

NASA Messenger

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NASA’s MESSENGER – set to become the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury – launched today at 2:15:56 a.m. EDT aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

NASA: Lenox Laser fabricated High Power Ceramic Apertures for spatial filtering aboard NASA’s Messenger Mission. We personally hand delivered these critical apertures to the engineers at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Lenox Laser took the opportunity of the visit to show engineers some of the latest fiber laser technology that is being developed by IPG Photonics.

The Messenger is scheduled to leave July 30th, 2004 and should fly by Venus in October 2006 and then finally reach Mercury by January 2008.

NASA Kepler Mission

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This special purpose space mission that has been proposed to NASA Headquarter’s Discovery Program as a practical method for detecting Extrasolar Terrestrial Planets, that is, rocky and Earth-size. Lenox Laser fabricated a custom Starfield Plate for the Kepler Mission.

Quote from NASA’s Kepler Mission Web Site

“The star plate has a large number of holes of various sizes (used to perform time-variant relative photometry) and they are placed in many locations across the field-of-view to support the suite of tests described earlier. The plate is made of 50-micron thick stainless steel and opaque (transparency of less than one part in a million). The hole pattern was drilled with a laser beam by Lenox Laser, with some holes as small as 3 microns diameter (for the mv=19 stars).

There are 84 holes for the 9<14 target stars in the uncrowded region of the plate. These are used to isolate the effects of faint background stars, bright stars, smearing, etc. Some of these have very nearby stars as faint as mv=19 to demonstrate that stars five magnitudes fainter than the target star are not a problem even when spacecraft jitter is simulated. Bias-Smear Graphic of 84 Star plate Array There is a crowded portion of the plate with 1540 stars having the same star field density to mv=19 as the actual Cygnus region to be viewed by the Kepler Mission. This region was used to demonstrate the ability to perform the high-precision relative photometry even in crowded fields."

Dr. David Koch – Deputy Principal Investigator, Kepler Mission
Kepler Website – NASA

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