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Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute

Institut aéronautique et spatial du Canada

The Canadian Contribution to the Webb Space Telescope: The First 25 Years

March 03, 2022 09:05 | Deleted user

Originally Recorded 2022.02.24

Presenter: Dr. Neil Rowlands
Engineering Fellow at Honeywell Ottawa

Sponsored with: Carleton University Mechanical and Aerospace Society

The Canadian contribution to the Webb Space Telescope is the largest space science project ever undertaken by the Canadian Space Agency. This contribution consists of flight hardware: the Fine Guidance Sensor and the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrometer, operations support and support to the Canadian astronomy community for science utilization of the Observatory. Planning for this contribution started at the very beginning of this major international venture in 1996.  

The presentation will summarize the major FGS/NIRISS development milestones leading to the successful launch of the Observatory on Christmas Day 2021. Testing a cryogenic space instrument presents some challenges and key test results from the ground test campaigns at CSA’s David Florida Laboratories and at NASA’s facilities will be reviewed. Some highlights from the early deployments and checkout of Observatory systems will be presented. Plans for the scientific utilization of the NIRISS instrument will also be summarized.  


Neil Rowlands obtained his B.Sc. (Engineering Physics) from the University of Alberta in 1985 and his Ph.D. (Astronomy) from Cornell University in 1991. At Cornell, he participated in the construction and use of infrared instrumentation for the Kuiper Airborne Observatory and the 5m Hale telescope at Mt. Palomar. After post-doctoral fellowships at the Université de Montréal, and at the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing where he worked with infrared instrumentation, he joined CAL Corporation (Ottawa, ON), now Honeywell Aerospace, as an electro-optical engineer.

Since 1995 he has been developing space-borne scientific instrumentation for the space physics, atmospheric sciences and astronomy communities. He is currently an Engineering Fellow at Honeywell in Ottawa. He has been working on the Canadian contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project, the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS/NIRISS), since 1997.

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