Help us gather light from distant stars with the James Webb Space Telescope and NIRSpec!
Make sure you have the model NIRSpec game board and the telescope parts with you before you begin:
Coupling Optics: Focuses the starlight into a beam that may be moved around the NIRSpec. This will be modeled by the dark gray laser piece.
Mirror: Bounces the starlight to the correct detector, filters, and other components of the NIRSpec. These mirrors are dark red.
Filter Wheel: The starlight must go through a filter if this piece is on the challenge card. The filter wheel blocks some light while allowing specific wavelengths to pass through for analysis. The filter wheel is modeled by the orange ring.
Calibration Assembly: Corrects variations produced by the instruments so the data is presented as a whole. The calibration assembly is static (non-moveable) when on the challenge card. The light does not touch the assembly but may move over it. The calibration assembly is modeled by the blue piece with a cross or X on top.
Detector: Absorbs and converts the light into electronic data sent back to NASA to be measured. The detector lights up and makes a sound when the starlight is absorbed. The detector is modeled by the white receiver piece.
- Arrange the pieces on your challenge board as shown on the first challenge card. Sometimes we will tell you the orientation of your piece; other times, you will see a question mark. This means you get to choose the piece’s orientation! There is also a space on top of the card that says “Add these missing NIRSpec pieces.” You may add these to the board at any location and orientation. Set the other pieces to the side. You won’t be using them for this particular challenge.
- Position the pieces so the model star light (the laser light) travels from the coupling optics to the detector. Think about how light travels and interacts with the different pieces.
- Slowly move the slider under each challenge card if you need a hint. Each card has at least one hint that helps to solve part of the challenge. Additionally, you are given a solution to each challenge. Keep in mind that many challenge cards have multiple solutions, so you may find something we did not!
There are 21 challenges for you to try. Can you complete them all?
THIS MATERIAL PRODUCED BY ORLANDO SCIENCE CENTER AND THE UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA IS BASED UPON WORK SUPPORTED BY NASA UNDER COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT AWARD NUMBER NNX16AM34G.