NASA has selected the micro-electromechanical (MEMs) micro-shutter technology for further development and use in the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST) near-infrared spectrometer (NIRSpec).
The NGST program was funding three studies exploring two MEMs alternatives (micro-mirrors and micro-shutters) as devices for object selection in a spectrometer. A recently completed review of these efforts concluded that the mirco-shutters would provide the optimal contrast needed for typical NGST spectroscopic programs (e.g., programs in the NGST design reference mission). The MEMs mirco-shutter development is being lead by the Goddard Space Flight Center (PI: S. H. Moseley).
The NIRSpec will be designed and built by the European Space Agency (ESA) and delivered to NASA for integration into the NGST science instrument module. In the Summer of 2003, ESA and NASA will evaluate the progress of the mirco-shutter device and make a decision whether to include this device in the NIRSpec. ESA is also studying a non-MEMs alternative should the micro-shutter device not materialize in the appropriate time frame.