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  • Supercooling Technology for Satellites

Photonics Spectra
Jun 1997
The US Air Force and NASA have developed a supercooling technology for satellites that enhances the performance of onboard infrared sensors.
Launched aboard the space shuttle Columbia in April, the cryogenic heat pipe is designed to lower internal operating temperatures to 2351 °F. The heat pipe fits inside a satellite, absorbing heat by pulling it through a 4-ft-long, 3/4-in.-diameter tube filled with oxygen or methane.
The heat transfers into space through an aluminum "radiator" attached to the satellite's exterior. Protecting highly sensitive infrared sensors from heat ensures that the sensors properly contrast and accurately identify distant objects through their "spectral fingerprints."

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