Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Take a NASA Tour with Kelli and Derek: Part 2: Cryo Vacuum/Space Blankets!

Derek and Kelli at the Cryo-Vacuum Chamber
Continuing on from yesterday's blog - we're taking a tour with Kelli and Derek as they walk behind the scenes at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The next stop was a giant cryogenic vacuum chamber.

Several critical items related to NASA's next-generation James Webb Space Telescope are being tested in the giant thermal vacuum test chamber. NASA's Space Environment Simulator (SES) is a big vacuum chamber where scientists and engineers cryo-test satellite instruments by lowering the temperature inside to extremes like 42 Kelvin (-384.1 Fahrenheit or -231.1 Celsius) and below to ensure that they can withstand the frigid temperatures of space.

HOW DOES IT WORK? It removes all of the air molecules in the chamber, creating a vacuum. Not only does it test if instruments will work in the extreme cold of space, but it can also heat up! Instruments, like a new car, give off a smell. That smell is called "outgassing." When something gives off gas or a smell, it can damage sensitive mirrors or parts of a satellite, so the vacuum chamber bakes instruments at high temperatures to remove the smell of them.

It's Huge! The part of the chamber that sticks up from the floor we were on is just 1/3rd of the chamber. The rest of it is below ground!

Thermal space blanket from a shuttle

   A simple NASA technology that protected Apollo and Skylab is still coming to the rescue in space and on Earth. We stopped by the thermal blanket shop at NASA Goddard, where people who worked in the New York garment industry work for NASA, cutting out, sewing and fitting thermal blankets around satellites and spacecraft!

Standing in front of a shuttle thermal blanket
    WHAT IS A THERMAL BLANKET?    The silvery insulation is a heavyweight on benefits and a flyweight on mass in order not to weigh down spacecrafts while protecting them. The material is made of a strong, plastic, vacuum-metallized film with an efficient, infrared-reflective coating of aluminum applied as a vapor.
   The same properties that are critical in space have proved to be life-saving on Earth. NASA's insulation technology has been widely used to create slim thermal blankets, NASA has used the same thin, shining insulation material on virtually all manned and unmanned missions.
    Today many marathons use "space blankets" to ward off the post-race chill. The silver-backed crowds of runners have become a well-known symbol of having finished a race. 

 There was a lot more to the tour, but these were just some of the highlights!  If you want to know more about what NASA Goddard does, go to: www.nasa.gov/goddard
Stopping at the "Earth Lights at Night Display!

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next