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Standards Spotlight

Views of Real-World Impact

ANSI shines a spotlight on Standards in action as they support safety, efficiency and well-being in interesting aspects of everyday life.

large hydrogen, sulfur and oxygen gas cloud in the constellation of Cassiopeia

Images from the James Webb Telescope Usher In a New Era of Astronomy


Incredible images revealing a never-before-seen view of the cosmos have been captured by NASA’s James Webb Telescope, giving astronomers and all of humankind incredible new insight into our universe. The images, recently released by NASA, offer a thrilling glimpse of the discoveries about cosmic history that are to come. They also mark the beginning of Webb’s science operations that will offer astronomers worldwide the opportunity to observe objects within our solar system and the early universe using Webb’s instruments.

The tremendous work of scientists developing aerospace technology, including that used in the James Webb Telescope, has long been supported by standards activities. The four main instruments within Webb’s Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM), which detect light from distant stars and galaxies, and planets orbiting other stars, rely on infrared technology: a Near-Infrared Camera, a Near-Infrared Spectrograph, a Mid-Infrared Instrument, and a Fine Guidance Sensor/Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph. The use of infrared technology is supported by ANSI/OEOSC OP1.007, For Optics and Electro-Optical Instruments – Optical Elements and Assemblies – Infrared Spectral Bands, a standard that guides the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. This American National Standard (ANS) was developed by the Optics and Electro-Optics Standards Council (OEOSC), a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The James Webb Telescope also houses an Optical Telescope Element – the eye of the system, which gathers light coming from space and provides it to the ISIM instruments. This element consists of a primary mirror made of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-coated beryllium mental that enable it to observe objects at greater distances (and therefore further back in time) than any other telescope ever created. Many telescopes, both amateur and professional, rely on standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 172, Optics and photonics, subcommittee (SC) 4, Telescopic systems. OEOSC serves as the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) administrator to TC 172.

Many other ANSI members have developed standards to support aerospace technology. SAE International developed a standard for RFID tags for the aerospace industry: SAE AS 6023, Active and Battery Assisted Passive Tags Intended for Aircraft Use. Gear design practices as they are applied to air vehicles and spacecraft are guided by AGMA 911-B21, Design Guidelines for Aerospace Gear Systems, a standard developed by the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA). AIAA S-112A-2013, Qualification and Quality Requirements for Electrical Components on Space Solar Panels, developed by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), establishes qualification and quality requirements for the electrical components integrated onto spacecraft solar panels.

Internationally, ISO develops standards for aerospace through its Technical Committee (TC) 20, Aircraft and Space Vehicles. ANSI, the U.S. member body to ISO, holds the secretariat to this TC.

In the U.S. and abroad, standards activities contribute to the exploration of our universe as we enter the dawn of a new era in astronomy. Visit NASA’s website to see the first images released from the James Webb Space Telescope.