NIRISS has an all-reflective optical design that consists of:

  • a pick-off mirror (POM),
  • a three-mirror collimator assembly,
  • a dual pupil/filter wheel assembly,
  • a three-mirror camera assembly, and
  • a single Hawaii 2RG detector

NIRISS optical assembly

The optical path is illustrated schematically in Figure 1. The optical assembly is attached to an aluminum optical bench, which is shared with the Fine Guidance Sensor. Three kinematic mounts, made of titanium, attach the optical assembly to the structure of the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM).

Figure 1. Optical path of NIRISS

Optical layout of NIRISS (schematic)

A schematic plot showing the optical layout of NIRISS. Source: Honeywell.

Figure 2. Solid body rendering of NIRISS

Solid-body rendering of NIRISS

Solid body rendering of NIRISS. Key components of the optical path are labelled. The kinematic mounts fasten NIRISS to the ISIM structure. Source: Honeywell.

Figure 3. NIRISS flight hardware

NIRISS uncovered

A photograph of the NIRISS flight hardware, at the Goddard Space Flight Center in December 2014, take between the second and third cryovacuum test campaigns. Compare it with Figure 2, where key components are identified. The path between the POM (which is not visible in this image) and the collimator three-mirror assembly (TMA) is shielded by internal baffling. Source: Honeywell.

Pick-off mirror

The pick-off mirror (POM) is a flat mirror composed of an aluminum substrate coated with nickel plating. Light from the fine steering mirror of the JWST Optical Telescope Element (OTE) is focused onto the NIRISS POM and directed into the instrument. 

The POM is mounted on a movable stage that serves as the course focus mechanism (CFM) for NIRISS.

It has four coronagraphic occulters engraved in its surface. These deep, cone-shaped holes in the nickel overcoat are remnants of the original tunable filter imager (TFI) configuration of the instrument. Although NIRISS does not have a coronagraphic mode, these occulters will nevertheless leave their imprint on all images of externally-illuminated sources. When projected onto the detector, the occulters appear as circular spots with diameters of 0.58", 0.75", 1.5", and 2.0" (approximately 9, 11. 23. and 31 pixels, respectively), with positions that depend slightly on the focus.


The NIRISS detector is a single Hawaii 2RG sensor chip array with 2048 × 2048 pixels. It provides a field of view of 2.2" × 2.2" with a plate scale of approximately 0.065 "/pixel.

Last updated

Published July 11, 2017


The format for 'Last updated' is shown below. Enter updates above this internal"Comment" box. Only enter major updates (not typos or formatting changes).

Updated April 05, 2017

  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam fermentum vestibulum est. Cras rhoncus. 
  • Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Sed quis tortor. 

Published March 02, 2017