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Proceedings Paper

Thermal design and performance of the REgolith x-ray imaging spectrometer (REXIS) instrument
Author(s): Kevin D. Stout; Rebecca A. Masterson
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Paper Abstract

The REgolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) instrument is a student collaboration instrument on the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission scheduled for launch in September 2016. The REXIS science mission is to characterize the elemental abundances of the asteroid Bennu on a global scale and to search for regions of enhanced elemental abundance. The thermal design of the REXIS instrument is challenging due to both the science requirements and the thermal environment in which it will operate. The REXIS instrument consists of two assemblies: the spectrometer and the solar X-ray monitor (SXM). The spectrometer houses a 2x2 array of back illuminated CCDs that are protected from the radiation environment by a one-time deployable cover and a collimator assembly with coded aperture mask. Cooling the CCDs during operation is the driving thermal design challenge on the spectrometer. The CCDs operate in the vicinity of the electronics box, but a 130 °C thermal gradient is required between the two components to cool the CCDs to -60 °C in order to reduce noise and obtain science data. This large thermal gradient is achieved passively through the use of a copper thermal strap, a large radiator facing deep space, and a two-stage thermal isolation layer between the electronics box and the DAM. The SXM is mechanically mounted to the sun-facing side of the spacecraft separately from the spectrometer and characterizes the highly variable solar X-ray spectrum to properly interpret the data from the asteroid. The driving thermal design challenge on the SXM is cooling the silicon drift detector (SDD) to below -30 °C when operating. A two-stage thermoelectric cooler (TEC) is located directly beneath the detector to provide active cooling, and spacecraft MLI blankets cover all of the SXM except the detector aperture to radiatively decouple the SXM from the flight thermal environment. This paper describes the REXIS thermal system requirements, thermal design, and analyses, with a focus on the driving thermal design challenges for the instrument. It is shown through both analysis and early testing that the REXIS instrument can perform successfully through all phases of its mission.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 August 2014
PDF: 16 pages
Proc. SPIE 9150, Modeling, Systems Engineering, and Project Management for Astronomy VI, 91501J (5 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2054995
Show Author Affiliations
Kevin D. Stout, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)
Rebecca A. Masterson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9150:
Modeling, Systems Engineering, and Project Management for Astronomy VI
George Z. Angeli; Philippe Dierickx, Editor(s)

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