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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Astrophysics Science Division | Sciences and Exploration

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Tiny and Extremely Fast

Only 7.6 mm in diameter, the turbine rotor spins up to 400,000 rpm. The 3.6 mm diameter hollow shaft has a rare earth permanent magnet inside.

Heart of the Cooling System

A photo of the NCC.

The heart of the NCS, the NICMOS Cryo-Cooler (NCC) was built to circulate cold Neon gas through the NICMOS cryostat. As mentioned before, it uses experimental micro-turbines rather than traditional pistons to compress gas. The turbines turn up to 400,000 rpm (about 100 times the operating speed of a typical car engine).

This innovative technology was selected for NCS because of its low vibration levels that would minimize the impact to Hubble's precise pointing capabilities.

With the NCC, more stable and optimal temperatures could be achieved than with a block of nitrogen ice (which was actually colder than ideal).

The NCC was built by the contractor Creare in New Hampshire.


More . . .
Principal investigator Judy Gibbon on the NCC's low vibration characteristic.