High-tech Refrigerator Accepted for Flight. Kudos to All.

November 5, 1998 | Mike Key
by Terri Gregory

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has selected the Adiabatic Demagnetization Refrigerator, developed as an experimental new design at SSEC, as the flight unit for the Astro-E satellite. The satellite is scheduled for launch in 2000 and is a combined effort of NASA and Japan’s Institute for Space and Astronautical Science. Astro-E will observe astronomical objects in X-ray wavelengths, and will measure high temperature gases at very high resolutions. With Astro-E data, scientists hope for new insights into the history of the universe.

Wires terminate at wirewrap pins to allow annealing before epoxy is applied.

Wires terminate at wirewrap pins to allow annealing before epoxy is applied.

When tested, the SSEC refrigerator exceeded specifications by 200%. The ADR team expects to make at least two more units. SSEC’s ADR Program Manager Bob Paulos said that precise astrophysics measurements can benefit greatly from this new design. Professor Dan McCammon of UW-Madison’s Space Physics Group is Principal Investigator for the SSEC ADR. His graduate assistant Steve Diker provided instructions for making the salt pill, which he has used in astrophyiscs experiments on high-altitude sounding rockets. At SSEC, Tony Wendricks and Dave Jones painstakingly grow the salt pill and monitor all stages of ADR development. UW-Madison’s Physical Sciences Laboratory machine and test parts, especially machine shop manager Bill Cotter, machinist Tim Sailor, precision welders Ron Smith and John Stine. John Randall (SSEC) also machines parts. Sterling Laboratories Inc., Harwood Heights, Illinois, plates wires and parts with copper and gold. Longview, a Milwaukee company, tested parts. BIT7 Inc., Madison, provided mechanical designs to SSEC (ultimately NASA) specifications. Goddard Space Flight Center, primarily Scott Porter, tests the ADR. Rounding out the SSEC ADR team are Mike Dean, quality assurance; Mark Mulligan, mechanical engineering; Nic Ciganovich, who installs threaded inserts in the ADR’s copper ends; and Dennis McRae and Dan Daugherty who perform various engineering and other tasks. For more information, follow the links below:

— SSEC ADR Salt Pill

— Astro-E