Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

SPIE's International Symposium on Optical Science, Engineering, and Instrumentation






Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers


San Diego, CA

Publication Date


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Utah State University/Space Dynamics Laboratory (USU/SDL), teaming with NASA Langley Research Center, is currently building the Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry(SABER) instrument. Stringent mass and power constraints, together with a greater than two year mission life, led to the selection of a TRW miniature pulse tube refrigerator to cool SABER's infrared detectors to the required temperature of 75 K.

This paper provides an overview of the SABER thermal management plan and the challenges encountered in matching the refrigerator characteristics with instrument performance requirements under the broadly variant space environments expected for this mission. Innovative technologies were developed to keep heat loads within the limited cooling capacity of the miniature refrigerator, as well as mechanically isolating but thermally connecting the refrigerator cold block to the focal plane assembly (FPA). A passive radiator will maintain the SABER telescope at an average temperature of 230 K while a separate radiator will reject heat from the refrigerator and electronics at approximately 260 K.

Significant breadboard tests of various components of the SABER instrument have taken place and the details of one of these will be discussed. The test included attaching a miniature mechanical refrigerator, borrowed from the Air Force, to the SABER FPA. This opportunity gave the SABER team a significant head start in learning about integrating and testing issues related with the TRW miniature pulse tube refrigerator.

SABER is scheduled to be launched in January 2000 as the primary instrument of NASA's TIMED (Thermosphere-lonosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics) spacecraft. The TIMED program is being managed by the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University.