Satellite cooling system breakthrough

Dec 05, 2013 by Buddy Nelson
Weighing just over 11 ounces, and less than four inches long in greatest dimension, the microcryocooler is expected to have an operating life of 10 years or more.

Scientists and engineers at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center (ATC) have developed the lightest satellite cryocooler, (cooling system) ever built. The breakthrough is seen as a game-changer in the design of affordable, advanced-technology flight systems, as it costs up to ten thousand dollars a pound for a satellite to orbit the Earth.

Known as a microcryocooler, the new weighs approximately 11 ounces, three times lighter than its predecessor, and is expected to have an operating life of at least ten years. The microcryocooler operates like a refrigerator, drawing heat out of and delivering highly efficient cooling to small science satellites orbiting the Earth and on missions to the .

"Temperatures as low as -320 F are required for infrared instruments and the coolers must operate with minimum power and long lifetimes," said Ted Nast, Lockheed Martin fellow at the ATC in Palo Alto. "That is why we constantly pursue a deeper understanding of the dynamic effects of temperature on cutting-edge technology and develop new systems, like our microcryocooler, that will perform successfully within the demands and constraints presented by severe, operational thermal environments."

Explore further: Rosetta spacecraft sees sinkholes on comet

Related Stories

Lockheed Martin powers on the first GPS III satellite

Mar 01, 2013

The Lockheed Martin team developing the U.S. Air Force's next generation Global Positioning System III satellites has turned on power to the system module of the program's first spacecraft, designated G ...

Major GPS III flight software milestone completed

Feb 07, 2013

The Lockheed Martin team developing the U.S. Air Force's next generation Global Position System III satellites has completed a key flight software milestone validating the software's ability to provide re ...

Recommended for you

Rosetta spacecraft sees sinkholes on comet

24 minutes ago

The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft first began orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August 2014. Almost immediately, scientists began to wonder about several surprisingly deep, almost perfectly ...

Me and my world: The human factor in space

3 hours ago

The world around us is defined by how we interact with it. But what if our world was out of this world? As part of NASA's One-Year Mission, researchers are studying how astronauts interact with the "world" ...

Radar guards against space debris

4 hours ago

Space debris poses a growing threat to satellites and other spacecraft, which could be damaged in the event of a collision. A new German space surveillance system, schedu- led to go into operation in 2018, will help to prevent ...

Why we need to keep adding leap seconds

6 hours ago

Today at precisely 10am Australian Eastern Standard time, something chronologically peculiar will take place: there'll be an extra second between 09:59:59 and 10:00:00.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.