Thermal architecture for the SPIDER flight cryostat

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics – Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics

Scientific paper

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11 pages, 4 figures; as published in the conference proceedings for SPIE Millimeter, Submillimeter, and Far-Infrared Detectors

Scientific paper


We describe the cryogenic system for SPIDER, a balloon-borne microwave polarimeter that will map 8% of the sky with degree-scale angular resolution. The system consists of a 1284 L liquid helium cryostat and a 16 L capillary-filled superfluid helium tank, which provide base operating temperatures of 4 K and 1.5 K, respectively. Closed-cycle helium-3 adsorption refrigerators supply sub-Kelvin cooling power to multiple focal planes, which are housed in monochromatic telescope inserts. The main helium tank is suspended inside the vacuum vessel with thermally insulating fiberglass flexures, and shielded from thermal radiation by a combination of two vapor cooled shields and multi-layer insulation. This system allows for an extremely low instrumental background and a hold time in excess of 25 days. The total mass of the cryogenic system, including cryogens, is approximately 1000 kg. This enables conventional long duration balloon flights. We will discuss the design, thermal analysis, and qualification of the cryogenic system.

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