Last week, I said a little goodbye to MIRI. In a UK Space Agency-sponsored swanky bash in central London, the MIRI team got the official confirmation that the instrument is cleared for shipping to our NASA colleagues at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, where it will be prepared for integration with the spacecraft that will carry the James Webb Space Telescope into space.
It was a day of looking back, ceremony and celebration, rather than schedules and problem-solving, for the benefit of the various officials from space and funding agencies and the media. In the afternoon, we heard a speech from the UK Science Minister David Willetts, and I particularly enjoyed the talk by Mark McCaughrean of ESA, about making dreams come true. Yes, there was some cheesiness, but you know, once in a while you have to chuck out the hard-nosed cynicism and make time for that.
There was some nice media coverage, particularly from the BBC. Here’s an interview with Eric Smith, the deputy programme director for JWST at NASA, Jonathan Amos visiting MIRI and RAL, and another longer article + video from Amos. Will Gater also vsited RAL and produced this nice video for the Sky at Night Magazine.
People always ask me whether this is now the end for the European involvement in MIRI, and of course it isn’t. There’s a lot of work still to be done once MIRI is in the US – it will need to be integrated with the rest of the spacecraft, which means more testing up ahead. There’s software to be developed and calibration products to be delivered. As most MIRI expertise is currently in Europe, the European team has an important, if supporting, role to play in all that. It also means that we’re not quite done yet with MIRI meetings, and I’m looking forward to more time with the team I’ve so enjoyed working with these last 5 years.
Unusually for me, I brought my own camera and took some pictures of the proceedings for my own memory box. I thought I’d share a few of the ones that came out nicely.
First, here’s MIRI:
Next, some of our Esteemed Leaders:
And here are some of the “VIPs” who came along:
And finally, here are a few of my fellow test team members who happened to be near my camera:
And here’s me, obsessively going through my slides before my talk:
Oh look, and here’s MIRI again: