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


Mercury Messenger Mission

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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.

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.

NASA Stereo Mission

News

nasa_stereo

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.

The project was nearly ended until Lenox Laser assisted with a critical 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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venus_transit

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 Galileo Mission

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GalView

For this pioneer mission to Jupiter, Lenox Laser drilled precision 19.5 micron holes in Hasteloy discs for a Helium Leak Detector. Galileo Spacecraft

National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST): Lenox Laser Fabricated an array of 5,000 orifices, each less than five microns, on a stainless steel conflat, for use as a standard, midrange high vacuum leak.

To learn more visit Galileo Spacecraft

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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