A method has been developed for caging science instrumentation to protect from pyro-shock and EDL (entry, descent, and landing) acceleration damage. Caging can be achieved by immersing the instrument (or its critical parts) in a liquid and solidifying the liquid by cooling. After the launch shock and/or after the payload has landed, the solid is heated up and evaporated.

In the example of a sensitive x–y seismometer, the volume is filled with CO2 (at an elevated pressure), or other compatible liquid. Then the liquid is frozen and maintained at a temperature below –80 °C for the duration of the flight. The solid is then allowed to sublime through a valved port. Other uses include caging of drag-free elements of LISA (laser interferometer space antenna) spacecraft and their progeny, caging instrumentation and avionics for penetrator missions, and caging of electronics to survive launch shock.

This work was done by Konstantin Penanen and Talso C. Chui of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Physical Sciences category. NPO-46930

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Cryogenic Caging for Science Instrumentation

(reference NPO-46930) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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

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