TES Button AIRS Button MISR Button MICAS Button BETSCE Button 100 px spacer

Cryo/Thermal Systems for Space Instruments

Developing cryo/thermal systems for space instruments involves designing, implementing, and validating the total thermal control system needed to control the temperatures of a space instrument's subsystems over the complete instrument-mission life cycle. Typical instrument subsystems include science detectors, optical benches, signal conditioning and control electronics, mechanical mechanisms, and complex photo-optical devices such as lasers and calibrators. The particular focus of the activities described here is on instruments that involve the use of cryogenic temperatures, generally for the detectors and optical chain. As a result, the instruments generally involve the use of active cryogenic refrigerators and/or cryogenic radiators.

Besides the cryogenic elements, instrument thermal systems generally involve the application of a wide variety of additional thermal control technologies such thermal conductors and heat pipes, heaters, louvers, special thermal control coatings and surfaces, room temperature radiators, and multilayer insulation (MLI).

Legacy JPL flight projects up through 2004 that have involved cryocoolers for which JPL led/managed the cryo/thermal engineering and testing include:

  1. The Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument, which was launched into polar orbit aboard NASA's third earth observing system spacecraft (EOS-Aura) in July 2004.
  2. The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument, which was built under system contract by Lockheed Martin (LMIRIS) of Lexington, MA, and launched in May 2002 on the NASA EOS Aqua Spacecraft.
  3. The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument, which was launched in December 1999 on the NASA EOS Terra Spacecraft.
  4. The Miniature Integrated Camera and Spectrometer (MICAS) instrument, which was launched aboard DS-1 in October 1998.
  5. The Brilliant Eyes Ten Kelvin Cryocooler Experiment (BETSCE), which flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in May of 1996.
    Adv_tech home