SPHEREx V-Groove Radiator
Amelia Quan, the mechanical integration lead for NASA's SPHEREx mission, is seen with a V-groove radiator, a piece of hardware that will help keep the space telescope cold, at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California in May 2023. Short for Specto-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer, SPHEREx will create a map of the cosmos like no other, imaging the entire sky and gathering information about millions of galaxies. With this map, scientists will study what happened in the first fraction of a second after the big bang, the history of galaxy evolution, and the origins of water in planetary systems in our galaxy.
SPHEREx will detect infrared light, a range of wavelengths longer than the visible light human eyes can see. Infrared light is also sometimes called heat radiation because all warm objects emit it. Even the telescope itself can create infrared light, which would interfere with its detectors. So the telescope has to be kept cold – below minus 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about minus 210 degrees Celsius).
The V-groove radiator consists of three conical mirrors, each like an upside-down umbrella, stacked atop one another. They sit below the photon shields, and each is composed of a series of wedges that redirect infrared light so it bounces through the gaps between the shields and out into space. This removes heat carried through the supports from the room temperature spacecraft bus that contains the spacecraft computer and electronics.
SPHEREx is managed by JPL for NASA's Astrophysics Division within the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Ball Aerospace built the telescope and will supply the spacecraft bus. The science analysis of the SPHEREx data will be conducted by a team of scientists located at 10 institutions across the U.S. and in South Korea. Data will be processed and archived at IPAC at Caltech. The SPHEREx data set will be publicly available.
For more information about the SPHEREx mission, visit: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/spherex/