Acquiring cheap, moving video was impossible in a vacuum environment, due to camera overheating. This overheating is brought on by the lack of cooling media in vacuum. A water-jacketed camera cooler enclosure machined and assembled from copper plate and tube has been developed.

Photos of Vacuum Camera Cooler: (a) Camera cooler with camera installed and (b) camera cooler with camera partially removed to expose copper tape and thermocouple, which are attached to overheating camera CPU.
The camera cooler (see figure) is cup-shaped and cooled by circulating water or nitrogen gas through copper tubing. The camera, a store-bought “spy type,” is not designed to work in a vacuum. With some modifications the unit can be thermally connected when mounted in the cup portion of the camera cooler. The thermal conductivity is provided by copper tape between parts of the camera and the cooled enclosure.

During initial testing of the demonstration unit, the camera cooler kept the CPU (central processing unit) of this video camera at operating temperature. This development allowed video recording of an in-progress test, within a vacuum environment.

This work was performed by Geoffrey A. Laugen of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-47417