Published: Jan. 31, 2022

Alison NordtAlison Nordt
Director Space Science & Instrumentation, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center
Friday, Feb. 4 | 12:00 P.M. | AERO 114

Abstract: On December 25, 2021 the James Webb Space Telescope launched into space aboard an Ariane V rocket from French Guiana. The observatory carries four science instruments that will enable observations and measurements to achieve an ambitious science program spanning from observing the first light in the universe and the formation of the first galaxies to characterizing exoplanets and protoplanetary disks. The Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) is the primary imager and serves dual purposes both as a science instrument and as the observatory’s wavefront sensor supporting alignment of the 18 primary mirror segments. The design, integration and testing of this unique cryogenic, refractive instrument provided tremendous engineering challenge demanding numerous innovations. The story of NIRCam’s development, challenges and success is presented by the instrument’s Principal Engineer.

Bio: Dr. Alison Nordt is the Director for Space Science and Instrumentation at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center. She is responsible for developing and operating missions that provide observational data to advance space science knowledge. Her work involves maturing technology to support current and future space-based telescopes and instruments. She is currently the Principal Investigator for TechMAST (Technology Maturation for Astrophysics Space Telescopes) and several related internal research and development efforts.

Previously, Nordt was the senior manager for Astrophysics and held several roles on the NIRCam program. She was responsible for the design, development, testing and delivery of the NIRCam instrument including optics, structures, mechanisms, electronics and software. In addition, she held responsibility for programmatic performance including cost and schedule execution and post-delivery support.
Nordt has an extensive background in structures, opto-mechanical systems and instrument development. She holds PhD and MS degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University.