NASA’s Landsat 8 Earth-observation satellite, part of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), launched into orbit on February 11, 2013. The satellite is intended to monitor environmental, natural, and manmade changes to the Earth’s surface using two sensitive data-collecting instruments, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS). Throughout the Landsat 8 mission, internal heat generated by the satellite’s electronics must continually be rejected to outer space; maintenance and adjustments are impossible after launch.
To meet the thermal challenge, NASA called upon k Technology, a Division of Thermacore, Inc., to create three thermal technologies designed to help the TIRS instrument operate at peak efficiency. A thermal spreader, constructed from k-Core® Annealed Pyrolytic Graphite (APG) encapsulated within aluminum, will dissipate heat quickly and reduce high temperatures and variations.
A thermal bracket will also conduct the heat from the approximately 185K telescope to its radiator. In addition, Thermacore engineers fashioned a lightweight, high-integrity, 20-pound bracket from 400 pounds of encapsulated APG. The cryocooler supporting bracket will provide high heat conductance and ensure consistent thermal performance.