Vibration-free 5 K sorption cooler for ESA's Darwin mission

J.F. Burger*, H.J.M. ter Brake, H. Rogalla, M. Linder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


ESA's Darwin mission is an Infrared Space Interferometer that will search for terrestrial planets in orbit around other stars. It uses six free-flying telescopes that are stabilized with respect to each other to less than 10 nm by utilizing micro-Newton ion thrusters. As a consequence, hardly any vibration of the optical system with integrated cryocoolers can be tolerated. A sorption cooler is a favorite cooler option because it has no moving parts and it is, therefore, essentially vibration-free. An efficient two-stage helium/hydrogen sorption cooler is proposed with a cooling power of 10 mW at 5 K. It needs only 3 W of input power and applies two passive radiators at 50 and 70 K. Application of such low-temperature radiators is made possible by Darwin's far-away orbit L2 where earth-radiation is limited. In this paper, first Darwin's cooler requirements are discussed and different cryocooler options are compared. Next, sorption cooler operation is explained, after which six different sorption cooler configurations are described and compared.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Joule–Thomson coolers
  • Space cryogenics
  • Sorption coolers


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