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Physics Colloquium – “Engineering the Complex: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope”
November 13 @ 4:00 pm
Abstract: Ball Aerospace has been designing and building space telescopes in Boulder for over sixty years, including the optics system for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. The telescope’s immense size, combined with its infrared capabilities and its distant orbit, will enable us to see farther back in time than ever before. The James Webb Space Telescope will be the largest and most powerful observatory ever flown, with a 21-foot-wide primary mirror and a 72-foot-long sunshield. Designed like high-tech origami to fit into a rocket and then unfurl in space, Webb will orbit near the second Lagrange point, about 1 million miles away from Earth. CSM alumnus Daniel Porpora led systems engineering for Ball’s design and build of the telescope’s groundbreaking optics system. He will share the unique science and engineering challenges of developing a telescope that can look back more than 13.5 billion years, revealing the first light after the Big Bang.
Bio: Daniel Porpora graduated in 2007 from a five-year program at the Colorado School of Mines, earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics and a master’s degree in materials engineering. He also minored in economics and business. While obtaining his degrees, Daniel worked at the National Institute for Standards and Technology as an assistant engineer and an independent researcher. His primary research topics were the measurement of magnetic fields in nanoscale dots using micro-cantilevers and the magnetic manipulation of individual strands of lambda-phage DNA. After graduation, Daniel began working at Ball Aerospace as a systems engineer. There he’s had the opportunity to support several NASA programs, including the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite and the James Webb Space Telescope. He currently works as Ball’s lead systems engineer for the Wide Field Instrument on WFIRST, which will capture images comparable to the Hubble Space Telescope, but with more than 100 times the field of view. Outside of work, Daniel spends much of his time with his wife, Laura, and their two young boys. Having spent the last 20-plus years living in Colorado, he considers himself a native, much to the chagrin of his wife, who was actually born here.
Berthoud Hall 241