As a Cooperative student at the Goddard Space Flight Center, my days are beginning to resemble that of a civil servant at a NASA center. I am learning to divide my time between several different projects, ensuring the specific tasks Iíve been assigned are completed on time and to the best of my ability.
The project that has been consuming the most of my time is the NIRCam Optical Telescope Simulator (NOTES) Project. The NOTES mechanism will be used for ground calibration of the Near- Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) prior to launch of the telescope in 2012. I have spent the last several weeks performing stress and flexure analysis on the linear springs of the source mechanism on the NOTES project. This mechanism, as seen in the figure, positions the mirror attached to the front of the assembly with the assistance of a linear piezoelectric motor creating a visual source for the NOTES assembly.
I am now in the testing stage for this mechanism and am characterizing the actuator behavior to determine the expected resolution, repeatability and output force of the linear actuator. This is the most challenging step as integration of the mechanism with the testing equipment must be performed. The next step is to determine the behavior of the mechanism in cryogenic temperatures as the calibration of JWST will occur in a cooled cryogenic environment.
I am also providing mechanical support on the design of a Miniature Imager for Neutral Ionospheric atoms and Magnetospheric Electrons (MINI-ME). The objective of this project is to observe neutral atoms that result from plasma interactions in close celestial bodies such as Venus and the sun.
My Co-Op work at NASA Goddard has been a rewarding experience as I have the opportunity to develop my design background and follow a project through an entire cycle of analysis, assembly, and testing. This experience would not have been possible without the various scientists and engineers that have assisted me and support from the Missouri Space Grant Consortium which provided me with the opportunity to work at the Goddard Space Flight Center. I am certain the remainder of my Co-Op experience will be as challenging as the first half.
~ALISSA MITCHELL, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-COLUMBIA