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
2013, A SPACE ODYSSEY
2013, A SPACE ODYSSEY
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.”

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

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.

Keep Reading ↓Show less