Science at Ball Aerospace
Ball Aerospace has worked behind-the-scenes in support of scientists in the astrophysics, planetary, earth science and solar communities for more than 50 years. The company supports scientists through all phases of mission development – from mission concept, to technology demonstration, to data delivery.
Ball Aerospace was founded by physicists from the University of Colorado who developed key technologies for accurately pointing sounding rockets. Since the company’s beginnings in 1956, many of our talented employees are scientist/engineershave worked with science teams to design, build and test instruments and spacecraft.
Based on its innovative and collaborative culture, Ball is often called the “Scientists’ Aerospace Company.
- For the James Webb Space Telescope, we applied our expertise in cryogenics to enable allow the infrared telescope, the mirrors and actuators to function at temperatures as low as -400 degrees Fahrenheit (33 K). Because the James Webb mirrors need to act as a single mirror on-orbit, we developed high-precision cryogenic actuators. Working with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, we developed wavefront sensing and control techniques to align the 18 mirror segments to an accuracy of <20 nanometers.
- For the Kepler mission, we designed and built the largest telescope NASA has ever flown in space. Kepler features a 1.45-meter-diameter mirror and an advanced focal plane with 42 CCDs and a total of 95 million pixels.
- For the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explore (WISE) mission, Ball designed, built and tested the spacecraft and conducted flight system testing and support operations.
- For the Hubble Space Telescope, Ball built COSTAR, the instrument that corrected the telescope’s flawed optics. Ball built all of Hubble’s current main instruments, bringing our total instrument contribution to Hubble to seven.
These missions build on a legacy of executing many scientific ‘firsts.’ From confirmation of the ozone hole, to the first all-sky survey in the infrared, Ball Aerospace applies technology to achieve the most challenging science requirements.