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The James Webb Area Telescope makes use of a 68GB SSD to retailer its unbelievable pictures & knowledge: Digital Pictures Overview


Final week, we noticed the primary pictures from NASA’s $10B James Webb Area Telescope. The photographs are gorgeous and signify an unbelievable achievement. The photographs are sharper and extra detailed than these from the Hubble Area Telescope. They may also unlock key info for researchers working onerous to grasp the universe’s origins, how stars and galaxies kind, and if there are planets on the market that may help life. The pictures are spectacular, and the telescope’s expertise is extraordinarily subtle, so it might be shocking to study that they are being saved aboard the house telescope on a comparatively paltry 68GB SSD. The onerous drive can maintain a couple of day’s price of Webb pictures.

IEEE Spectrum studies Webb generates about 57GB of information every day. Compared, Hubble generates about 1 to 2GB of each day knowledge. Webb reserves 3 p.c of its 68GB SSD for engineering and telemetry knowledge. Scientific knowledge that Webb collects throughout its mission may also have to be saved on board, because the telescope does not keep fixed communication with Earth. Nevertheless, earlier than the drive fills, which takes about 24 hours, Webb will beam knowledge again to Earth throughout a pair of four-hour contact home windows every day.

Knowledge transmission is a essential element of the Webb mission and has been rigorously studied and deliberate for many years. The telescope is about 1.5 million km (932,000 mi) from Earth at Lagrange level L2. That is a protracted approach to ship knowledge. Webb is the primary mission to make use of Ka-band frequencies to ship its comparatively excessive quantity of information. Particularly, IEEE Spectrum notes that the JWST is transmitting knowledge on a 25.9GHz channel at as much as 28Mb/second (0.0035GB/sec). That works out to about 12.6GB per hour.

Ka-band frequencies can transmit extra knowledge than both X-band (7-11.2GHz) or S-band (2-4GHz). These bands are typical decisions for distant spacecraft. Given Webb’s excessive quantity of information, these bands weren’t a viable choice. Additional, per Carl Hansen, a flight methods engineer on the Area Telescope Science Institute (STScI), a comparable X-band antenna would have been giant sufficient that it may have hampered Webb’s capacity to seize sharp pictures.

Though major knowledge is transmitted utilizing a Ka-band, Webb contains two S-band channels. A 2.09GHz uplink transmits commentary schedules to the telescope at about 16Kb/s. A second 2.27GHz S-band has a 40kb/s downlink that transmits engineering knowledge, together with operational standing and system well being.

At L2, Webb is topic to excessive temperatures of round -223° C (-370° F) and vital radiation. The SSD needed to undergo in depth testing, after all. Even nonetheless, after a decade, the SSD’s capability might be diminished to round 60GB as a result of radiation and normal put on and tear. NASA expects Webb to carry out not less than 20 years, double its authentic mission plan. Nevertheless, at what level will SSD deterioration turn into an impediment?

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