To help it record faint signals from faraway objects, engineers at Raytheon Vision Systems and Teledyne Technologies have built two sensitive infrared detectors that register mid- and near-infrared wavelengths. The detectors are responsible for turning collected photons into electrons, much as a digital camera does, so that images of stars and galaxies can be recorded electronically. Below, the mid-infrared detector is exhibited by a project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where it is being tested.
Further enhancing the telescope’s ability to detect faint light is a microshutter built by engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. It serves as a light filter, allowing scientists to select the object they wish to study and block nearer, brighter light sources. With the help of this device, the telescope can efficiently observe more than 100 distant galaxies simultaneously.