New video reveals how Webb Telescope's MIRI detectors work

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Washington, December 30 (ANI): Researchers have come up with a new short video that shows what the James Webb Space Telescope's MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) detectors are all about and what they can do.

"The MIRI is one of four science instruments aboard the Webb telescope that is designed to record images and spectra at the longest wavelengths that the Webb telescope can observe," said Matt Greenhouse, Project Scientist for the science instrument payload.

"The mid-infrared spectrum covers wavelengths in the range of 5 to 28 micrometers or microns. Light in this portion of the spectrum is invisible to our eyes, but is produced by all room-temperature objects and carries key information about the local and early universe," Greenhouse said.

Light at these wavelengths is blocked by water vapor in the earth's atmosphere and can only be efficiently observed using a telescope in space.

A new video about the MIRI detectors is part of an on-going series called "Behind the Webb" about the James Webb Space Telescope.

It was produced and created by the Space Science Telescope Institute (STScI) of Baltimore, Maryland and is available at

Part of the video was shot at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California in January 2009.

"It is a broadcast quality video in high definition and will be available in almost a dozen varieties of file formats from Quicktime, to WMV to Flash, to M4V, and all in different sizes," said Mary Estacion, News Video Producer at STScI.

The video runs exactly three minutes and explains how the three detectors on the MIRI work and the tests they endure to prepare them for the Webb telescope's launch and flight in space.

The video is hosted by Estacion, who interviewed Dr. Michael Ressler, the MIRI Project Scientist at NASA JPL.

In the video, Ressler explains what MIRI detectors do and how the MIRI sensor works by comparing it to a chip on a camera.

The video also takes the viewer behind the scenes and into a clean room to show viewers how the MIRI detectors are tested.

The Webb telescope is the largest space observatory ever constructed.

As a result, MIRI will have a huge discovery potential and will enable the Webb telescope to achieve over one hundred times the sensitivity of any previous observatory at these wavelengths. (ANI)

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