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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Astrophysics Science Division | Sciences and Exploration

This website is kept for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

How will we replace the ice?

Not possible... instead NASA decided to pump cold gas into NICMOS from an external mechanical cooler.

Where will the cooler go?

The external mechanical cooler would be located next to NICMOS, attached only by the tubes that would carry neon gas.
The option to refill the cryostat with nitrogen ice in orbit was considered but rejected. The method used to fill the tank with frozen nitrogen on the ground required gravity to work. It was deemed unfeasible because of time constraints, and the loss of dexterity in space.

NASA scientists at Goddard came up with the idea of circulating cold gas from a mechanical cooler that was attached externally to the chamber that held the nitrogen. The plumbing used in this concept was initially designed to freeze the original load of nitrogen, not to be a conduit for the active coolant itself.

Even more radical was the push to use an experimental mechanical cooler that was being researched and developed by NASA contractor Creare. The experimental cooler functioned with ultra-high speed turbines rather than traditional pistons (as in a refrigerator).

The concept of the NICMOS Cooling System (NCS) was born.


More . . .
3D animation - opening Hubble's axial bay doors to reveal NICMOS and the placement of the mechanical cooler.
Principal investigator Judy Gibbon talks about the origins of the experimental mechanical cooler.