We propose the development of a thermal conditioning retrofit “kit” for installation on COTS shaker control accelerometers to prevent freeze-up of the accelerometers during cryogenic testing. Our Phase I proposal presents a promising conceptual design and initial mechanical, electrical, and thermal approach for such a kit. With its flexible design, the proposed kit provides compatibility with many accelerometers that are commonly used as shaker control accelerometers. This allows test engineers to select from a wide range of accelerometers, confident in their knowledge that extreme control electronics temperatures will not interfere with testing.
The proposed retrofit kit will be useful at Stennis Space Center and other NASA facilities that are equipped with cryogenic shaker capabilities. Particularly with large soak-style cryogenic vibration tests of which NASA is predisposed to perform, there is a risk of freezing the vibration control accelerometers. The proposed innovation will prevent this from happening. Non-testing related opportunities also exist: preventing freeze-up of accelerometers in deep space or on the dark side of planets and moons are a topic of interest to NASA.
With the trend towards commercial development of launch vehicles and other cryogenic applications, demand for technologies that improve the reliability, predictability, and flexibility of test setups will be higher than ever before. While our proposed innovation will be applied to accelerometers, the underlying technology may be applied just as easily to sensors and other control electronics.