The cooler uses hydrogen as the refrigerant and LaNi4.8Sn0.2 as the hydride sorbent. The materials, components, design margins, and assembly procedures are entirely consistent with space-flight qualification requirements.
In addition to being vibration-free, which is important for bolometers, the mass and power requirements are significantly less than the alternative Stirling cycle refridgerators.
The schematic and a black and white photo of the sorption cooler follow. Color pictures and more information are available on the Sorption Cooler page.
A sorption cryocooler has been flown on the Shuttle by Lawrence A Wade. It is know as the BETSCE (Brillant Eyes Ten-Kelvin Sorption Cryocooler Experiment. The inflight performance of BETSCE has validated the use of hydride sorption coolers in space. No on-orbit degradation of the performance was observed.
Return to the Planck Information page for a more complete description of Planck, formerly called COBRAS/SAMBA.
Return to the Smoot Group page for a complete description of Dr. Smoot's group's research activities.