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Proceedings Paper

Superfluid helium cryostat for the SIRTF cryogenic telescope assembly
Author(s): Stephen M. Volz; Russell B. Schweickart; Bruce Heurich
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Paper Abstract

The Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) is the last of NASA's four great observatories, scheduled for launch in January 2003. At the heart of the SIRTF Observatory is the Cryogenic Telescope Assembly (CTA) that provides a 1.4 K heat sink for the SIRTF Science Instruments while cooling the telescope to as low as 5.5 K in order to achieve thea low photon background. This unique cryogenic/thermal system provides the necessary cooling through passive means combined with vapor cooling by the helium gas vented from a 360 liter superfluid helium cryostat. The passive cooling is made possible by the favorable thermal environment achieved in an Earth-trailing solar orbit, with the payload millions of miles from the Earth. The SIRTF Cryostat and integrated CTA have just completed an extended period of cryogenic system performance testing. This testing included mission lifetime assessment, luanch hold capability and in situ characterization and performance measurements of the porous plug liquid-vapor phase separator. We also encountered and recovered from an ice contamination incident within the cryostat. We report here the system and component test results. We also provide recommendations and lessons learned through the operations of the SIRTF system.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 March 2003
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4850, IR Space Telescopes and Instruments, (5 March 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.461482
Show Author Affiliations
Stephen M. Volz, NASA Headquarters (United States)
Russell B. Schweickart, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (United States)
Bruce Heurich, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4850:
IR Space Telescopes and Instruments
John C. Mather, Editor(s)

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