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Satellite cooler triples power, lessens payload

26 Aug 2015

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Lockheed Martin scientists developed a cooler that has thrice the power density of its recently launched satellite cooling system. The lightweight design offers reduced component size, higher-power spacecraft payloads and smaller sensor platforms for in-planet applications.

Highly sophisticated electronics like satellite sensors and cameras need to be cooled to detect what they're designed to capture, even to temperatures as low as -195°C. Smaller cryocoolers mean more affordable satellites and launches, as well as other applications. With higher power, this microcryocooler enables larger, more sensitive IR sensors, useful for very high-resolution images. Despite increased capability, the component's power efficiency rating is roughly the same as lower-power coolers.

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The new system cools optics and electronics to as low as -195°C in space, naval ships and aircrafts. The microcryocooler is a highly reliable system designed for continuous operation over a lifespan of over 10 years.

The high-power microcryocooler delivers more than 150W/kg, a significant advancement from the 30-60W/kg rating most space-rated cryocoolers deliver. It also weighs less than a pound, which is less than half the weight of similar cooling systems.

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