Thanks to its expertise in extreme cryogenics and as a long-term partner of the space industry, the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences entrusted Air Liquide to study the possibility of integrating cryogenic coolers into its Millimetron space observatory, a 10-meter high space telescope designed to study various objects in the universe.
To achieve its goals when launched in space, Millimetron’s 10-meter mirror will need to be cooled at extremely low temperatures. Air Liquide is studying the possibility of implementing its cryogenic coolers, also called pulse tube coolers, on one part of the instrument to ensure that it is maintained at 10 Kelvin (-263°C). The study will end in the second half of 2021 after a period of preliminary technical tests, and the Milimetron mission is set to be launched in 2029.
The Millimetron space observatory’s scientific program aims to solve a set of the most important and breakthrough scientific problems in the field of modern astrophysics and cosmology. Its mission will be to observe the event horizon of supermassive black holes, in order to find out how the oceans appeared on Earth, and how often planets with liquid water are formed. It will also study the limits of applicability of modern cosmological theory.
Air Liquide has been engaged in the space exploration field for more than 50 years by developing state-of-the-art technologies adapted to the highly constraining environment of space.