Feasibility of Passive Cryogenic Cooling for Solar Powered Outer Planetary Missions
Jose I. Rodriguez
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Spacescience instruments with cooled detectors require innovative thermal cooling solutions to meet science objectives. Detector sensitivity increases with decreasing temperature and low optics temperatures are needed to reduce background photon noise. As the detector spectral range coverage increases from the visible to far infrared also requires lower detector temperatures. Increasing demands on detector performance leads to larger format detectors and higher refresh rates resulting in significant increases in power dissipation. Passive coolers rely on emissive power of radiating surfaces to reject heat to space. As the operating temperature requirements of detectors and optics decreases the ability to reject heat to space becomes increasingly more difficult. Reducing both cooler internal parasitic and external environmental heat loads and maximizing the passive cooler field of view to space will enhance performance. While instrument heat loads and passive cooler parasitic heat loads are internally controlled by instrument designers the external environmental heat loads and cooler views to space are governed by spacecraft and mission designers. Solar powered planetary missions require large arrays to generate sufficient power for spacecraft subsystems and payloads. Two or more solar array wings with cell coverage of the order of 40-80m2 are often needed to generate sufficient power at 3-6AU. These large arrays are typically symmetrically configured and can extend tens of meters. The arrays along with spacecraft attitude requirements near the target planets pose significant challenges for passive cooling at large AU. It is very difficult to provide a clear field of view to space for the cooler with large articulating arrays while keeping solar loads from impinging the cooler and meeting the spacecraft attitude science pointing requirements. This is counter intuitive because of the decreasing solar flux and colder planetary body temperatures. This paper presents the challenges and opportunities of passive cryogenic cooling for solar powered planetary missions.