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Vacuum Thermal Cycling Facility

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Description and Features:

  • Thermal cycling in vacuum to realistically simulate orbiting spacecraft.
  • Uniform heating provided by ceramic heater. 
  • Radiant cooling provided by liquid nitrogen-cooled chamber.
  • Test samples automatically cycled between heating and cold chambers by manipulator arm actuated based on pre-set temperatures or by pre-set exposure time.
  • Sample exposure area approximately 8-by 8-cm.
  • Tests samples to 6.4-mm thick.
  • 10-6-torr base vacuum pressure.
  • Adjustable thermal cycling temperature extremes (upper limit up to ~200 Celsius; lower temperature as low as -80 Celsius).
  • Computer-operated data acquisition of thermal cycling data.
  • Automatically controlled system for unattended operation.


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Research Projects:

  • Durability of mirror-facet concentrator coupons for Solar Dynamic Ground Test Demonstration (SDGTD) program.
  • Coating adhesion for electric propulsion ion thruster surfaces.

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Potential Uses:

  • Supporting future Low Earth Orbit missions.
  • Evaluating thermal cycling durability of newly developed coating systems for Low Earth Orbit applications.

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Last Updated: 02/04/2014