A high-reliability heritage flight cryocooler built by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) is now operational, following its launch aboard Japan's Ibuki, also known as the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite, earlier in February. Ibuki will monitor global warming.
Northrop Grumman's cryocooler completed turn-on procedures and cooled the infrared focal planes of Ibuki's primary sensor to an operating temperature of 65 Kelvin, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The cryocooler was built by Northrop Grumman under contract to BAE.
The High Efficiency Cryocooler (HEC) pulse tube units are designed to keep TANSO-FTS, Ibuki's primary carbon dioxide sensor, at cryogenic temperatures for more than 10 years. The flight assembly consists of a single-stage HEC pulse tube cooler that utilizes high-pressure helium gas, and cryocooler control electronics. The HEC pulse tube cryocoolers are the latest generation of a design first used for space flight in the 1990s.
The Ibuki cryocooler is the second Northrop Grumman-built cryocooler to enable a sensor on a Japanese satellite. The Japanese Advanced Meteorological Imager (JAMI), on orbit since 2005 on the Multi-functional Transport Satellite (MTSAT), features a pair of Northrop Grumman pulse tube cryocoolers. JAMI provides high quality multispectral imagery for weather forecasters in Japan, East Asia, and Australia.