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A Team of Engineers, a Hardy Robot, the Moon

A day in the life of a Carnegie Mellon robotics team-and its lunar rover

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Photo: Bill Cramer/Wonderful Machine
MOON SHOT: Engineers from Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, are developing a remote-controlled rover that they plan to send to the moon in late 2010. They are members of the Astrobotic team, one of the competitors vying for the US $20 million first prize in the Google Lunar X Prize competition. <
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Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.

NASA

For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals its first images on 12 July, they will be the by-product of carefully crafted mirrors and scientific instruments. But all of its data-collecting prowess would be moot without the spacecraft’s communications subsystem.

The Webb’s comms aren’t flashy. Rather, the data and communication systems are designed to be incredibly, unquestionably dependable and reliable. And while some aspects of them are relatively new—it’s the first mission to use Ka-band frequencies for such high data rates so far from Earth, for example—above all else, JWST’s comms provide the foundation upon which JWST’s scientific endeavors sit.

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