Replacement for Hubble Space Telescope Will Use Copper-based Communications Systems

Optical fiber interconnects not yet good enough for James Webb Space Telescope, but SpaceWire standard is.

4 min read
Image: NASA

14 January--NASA has opted for copper over optical fiber for connecting components in the next-generation space telescope. In a situation somewhat akin to telecom operators' widespread use of DSL technology instead of fiber optics for broadband service, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will use advanced twisted-pair technology to bridge instruments and electronic components across it's tennis-court-size frame, according to NASA.

NASA engineers say optical-fiber interconnect technology is still not up to the challenges of space. ”Fiber-optics drivers and receivers aren't at a state where the space industry can utilize them,” says Mark Voyton, data-handling systems manager for the JWST. ”However, I expect future generations to be fiber.”

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Top Tech 2023: A Special Report

These two dozen technical projects should make significant advances in the coming year

2 min read
Top Tech 2023: A Special Report
Edmon DeHaro

Each January, the editors of IEEE Spectrum offer up some predictions about technical developments we expect to be in the news over the coming year. You’ll find a couple dozen of those described in the following special report. Of course, the number of things we could have written about is far higher, so we had to be selective in picking which projects to feature. And we’re not ashamed to admit, gee-whiz appeal often shaped our choices.

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