SPHEREx Space Telescope Stays Cool in Basement at Caltech

News Release • September 22nd, 2023
Spherex payload all.original

The SPHEREx telescope and detectors will stay cold in space with the help of three "V-groove" radiators, seen here at the bottom of the telescope. Nicknamed the "jewels that keep SPHEREx cool," these radiators emit thermal energy as infrared radiation out to the sides, and into the cold of space. The radiators are staged such that each one reaches a lower temperature as you move toward the top. The last radiator stage is a plate, located near the top of the telescope, which provides the lowest temperature stage for the long-wavelength detectors. The telescope was built by Ball Aerospace.

NASA's SPHEREx space telescope has been tucked inside a custom-built chamber on and off for the past two months undergoing tests to prepare it for its two-year mission in space. SPHEREx, which stands for Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer, is set to launch into orbit around Earth no later than April 2025. It will map the entire sky in infrared wavelengths of light, capturing not only images of hundreds of millions of stars and galaxies but spectra for these objects as well. Spectra are created by instruments that break apart light into a rainbow of wavelengths, revealing new details about a cosmic object's composition, distance, and more.

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