High precision observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) may enable astronomers to test new theories of dark matter & dark energy and currently unexplained events such as cosmic inflation & cosmic acceleration. Detecting CMB polarization would provide evidence for inflationary theory and open a new window on physics in the very early universe. Cost effective balloon experiments can probe the CMB, and develop technology for future space missions. NASA desires technology for low mass, high thermal performance LHe insulated dewars for future balloon-borne instruments. Light Weight Dewar (LWD) is a novel lightweight dewar concept, using a thin, lightweight vacuum shell supported by underlying IMLI layers and integrated with a lightweight dewar wall, that could achieve heat flux as low as 0.3 W/m2 and up to 79% mass reduction over current LHe dewars.
LWD uses discrete load-supporting spacers to form a structural insulation system able to support thin metal vacuum shells at balloon observatory atmospheric loads while minimizing heat flux through the spacers and layers. Quest’s expertise in engineering high performance insulation systems that support external loads, along with experience gained from designing lightweight vacuum shell and insulation layers with load supporting spacers for two NASA programs, should enable the Quest team to successfully design, build and test a lightweight dewar that provides good thermal performance for LHe storage for high altitude balloon cryogenic sensors.
The Quest team believes a novel system integrating a ventable/sealable lightweight Vacuum Shell, supported by IMLI, can be engineered for high performance at float altitude and provide good thermal performance and lower mass than current state-of-the-art dewars, enabling future 5m optics.
NASA is interested in a future ARCADE mission, and lightweight dewars are necessary to achieve larger 3 – 5m optics. LWD may enable future large balloon cryostats. LWD may prove beneficial to NASA and Primes for a variety of new spacecraft, launch vehicles and missions, helping achieving Zero Boil Off, a critical need for long duration, manned spaceflight. Active cryocooler based ZBO systems, using VJ- and vapor-cooled IMLI technology, could improve cryogenic propellant storage for future Lunar Gateway or orbital fuel depots.
Light Weight Dewar technology may provide benefits for low temperature balloon experiments, funded and conducted by institutions. This technology might prove useful for a variety of science missions needing thermal control. LWD might provide improved lightweight thermal insulation for storage and preservation of cryogens for a variety of uses, such as commercial, medical, industrial and research.