A document discusses a thermal radiator design consisting of lightweight composite materials and low-emittance metal coatings for use on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) structure. The structure will have a Thermal Subsystem unit to provide passive cooling to the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) control electronics. The ISIM, in the JWST observatory, is the platform that provides the mounting surfaces for the instrument control electronics. Dissipating the control electronic generated-heat away from JWST is of paramount importance so that the spacecraft’s own heat does not interfere with the infrared-light gathering of distant cosmic sources.

The need to have lateral control in the emission direction of the IEC (ISIM Electronics Compartment) radiators led to the development of a directional baffle design that uses multiple curved mirrorlike surfaces. This concept started out from the so-called Winston non-imaging optical concentrators that use opposing parabolic reflector surfaces, where each parabola has its focus at the opposite edge of the exit aperture. For this reason they are often known as compound parabolic concentrators or CPCs.

This radiator system with the circular section was chosen for the IEC reflectors because it offers two advantages over other designs. The first is that the area of the reflector strips for a given radiator area is less, which results in a lower mass baffle assembly. Secondly, the fraction of energy emitted by the radiator strips and subsequently reflected by the baffle is less. These fewer reflections reduced the amount of energy that is absorbed and eventually re-emitted, typically in a direction outside the design emission range angle.

A baffle frame holds the mirrors in position above a radiator panel on the IEC. Together, these will direct the majority of the heat from the IEC above the sunshield away towards empty space.

This work was done by Robert A. Rashford, Charles M. Perrygo, Matthew B. Garrison, Bryant K. White, Felix T. Threat, Manuel A. Quijada, James W. Jeans, Frank K. Huber, Robert R. Bousquet, and Dave Shaw of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-15823-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the July, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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