Space Micro Pulse Tube Cooler
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The Northrop Grumman space micro pulse tube cooler (micro) is a split configuration cooler incorporating a coaxial cold head connected via a transfer line to a vibrationally balanced back to back linear compressor. The micro compressor is scaled from the flight proven high efficiency cooler (HEC) compressor and contains non-wearing pistons suspended on flexure bearings. Designed for > 10 year operation with no performance change, the 800 gram mechanical cooler can cool sensors and optics to temperatures <50K while rejecting heat to radiators over a wide range of reject temperatures. The very small, low vibration, high frequency cooler is designed to be readily integrated into space payloads. The coaxial cold head can also be integrated with custom focal planes into an integrated detector cooler assembly (IDCA) similar to those used with the shorter lived tactical coolers. This paper reports on the performance of this cooler.