Flight mirror assemblies (FMAs) of large telescopes, such as the International X-ray Observatory (IXO), have very stringent thermal-structural distortion requirements. The spatial temperature gradient requirement within a FMA could be as small as 0.05 °C. Conventionally, heaters and thermistors are attached to the stray light baffle (SLB), and centralized heater controllers (i.e., heater controller boards located in a large electronics box) are used. Due to the large number of heater harnesses, accommodating and routing them is extremely difficult. The total harness length/mass is very large. This innovation uses a thermally conductive pre-collimator to accommodate heaters and a distributed heater controller approach. It minimizes the harness length and mass, and reduces the problem of routing and accommodating them.

Heaters and thermistors are attached to a short (4.67 cm) aluminum portion of the pre-collimator, which is thermally coupled to the SLB. Heaters, which have a very small heater power density, and thermistors are attached to the exterior of all the mirror module walls. The major portion (23.4 cm) of the pre-collimator for the middle and outer modules is made of thin, non-conductive material. It minimizes the view factors from the FMA and heated portion of the pre-collimator to space. It also minimizes heat conduction from one end of the FMA to the other. Small and multi-channel heater controllers, which have adjustable set points and internal redundancy, are used. They are mounted to the mechanical support structure members adjacent to each module.

The IXO FMA, which is 3.3 m in diameter, is an example of a large telescope. If the heater controller boards are centralized, routing and accommodating heater harnesses is extremely difficult. This innovation has the following advantages. It minimizes the length/mass of the heater harness between the heater controllers and heater circuits. It reduces the problem of routing and accommodating the harness on the FMA. It reduces the risk of X-ray attenuation caused by the heater harness. Its adjustable set point capability eliminates the need for survival heater circuits. The operating mode heater circuits can also be used as survival heater circuits. In the non-operating mode, a lower set point is used.

This work was done by Michael Choi of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16380-1