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.

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. Roughly 18 months from now, 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.

Eric P. Smith

NGST Program Scientist

Code SZ

NASA Headquarters

Washington, DC 20546

Phone: (202) 358-2439

Fax: (202) 358-3096