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Proceedings Paper

Environmental testing for new SOFIA flight hardware
Author(s): Michael Lachenmann; Jürgen Wolf; Rainer Strecker; Benedikt Weckenmann; Fritz Trimpe; Helen J. Hall
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Paper Abstract

New flight hardware for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has to be tested to prove its safety and functionality and to measure its performance under flight conditions. Although it is not expected to experience critical issues inside the pressurized cabin with close-to-normal conditions, all equipment has to be tested for safety margins in case of a decompression event and/or for unusual high temperatures, e.g. inside an electronic unit caused by a malfunction as well as unusual high ambient temperatures inside the cabin, when the aircraft is parked in a desert. For equipment mounted on the cavity side of the telescope, stratospheric conditions apply, i.e., temperatures from -40 °C to -60°C and an air pressure of about 0.1 bar. Besides safety aspects as not to endanger personnel or equipment, new hardware inside the cavity has to function and to perform to specifications under such conditions. To perform these tests, an environmental test laboratory was set up at the SOFIA Science Center at the NASA Ames Research Center, including a thermal vacuum chamber, temperature measurement equipment, and a control and data logging workstation. This paper gives an overview of the test and measurement equipment, shows results from the commissioning and characterization of the thermal vacuum chamber, and presents examples of the component tests that were performed so far. To test the focus position stability of optics when cooling them to stratospheric temperatures, an auto-collimation device has been developed. We will present its design and results from measurements on commercial off-the-shelf optics as candidates for the new Wide Field Imager for SOFIA as an example.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 July 2014
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 9145, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes V, 91452V (22 July 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2056976
Show Author Affiliations
Michael Lachenmann, Deutsches SOFIA Institut, Univ. Stuttgart (Germany)
SOFIA Science Ctr., NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Jürgen Wolf, Deutsches SOFIA Institut, Univ. Stuttgart (Germany)
SOFIA Science Ctr., NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Rainer Strecker, Deutsches SOFIA Institut, Univ. Stuttgart (Germany)
NASA-Neil Armstrong Flight Research Ctr. (United States)
Benedikt Weckenmann, Deutsches SOFIA Institut, Univ. Stuttgart (Germany)
SOFIA Science Ctr., NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Fritz Trimpe, Deutsches SOFIA Institut, Univ. Stuttgart (Germany)
SOFIA Science Ctr., NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Helen J. Hall, SOFIA Science Ctr., Univ. Space Research Association (United States)
NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9145:
Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes V
Larry M. Stepp; Roberto Gilmozzi; Helen J. Hall, Editor(s)

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