The Chirp Heard ‘Round the Universe

Analog Devices and LIGO advance science with amazing solutions

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Aerial photo of Caltech/MIT LIGO Lab

At 4AM on September 14, 2015, a gravitational wave was detected for the first time in human history. Its source was two black holes, 1.3 billion light years away, whose violent collision created a release of gravitational-wave power ten times greater than the combined energy of all the stars in the universe. What was behind this ground-breaking event?

Precision engineering at LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory – and innovative technology from Analog Devices. Indeed, it took a precision instrument beyond measure to successfully achieve that goal; an instrument so precise that, metaphorically speaking, if you were to take all the sand from all the beaches on Earth, LIGO could detect the removal of a single grain. Analog Devices was proud to have its converters, temperature sensors, op amps, and more utilized by LIGO.

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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.


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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