Thermal System Verification and Model Validation for NASA's Cryogenic Passively Cooled James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) 2005-01-3042
A thorough and unique thermal verification and model validation plan has been developed for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. The JWST observatory consists of a large deployed aperture optical telescope passively cooled to below 50 Kelvin along with a suite of several instruments passively and actively cooled to below 37 Kelvin and 7 Kelvin, respectively. Passive cooling to these extremely low temperatures is made feasible by the use of a large deployed high efficiency sunshield and an orbit location at the L2 Lagrange point. Another enabling feature is the scale or size of the observatory that allows for large radiator sizes that are compatible with the expected power dissipation of the instruments and large format Mercury Cadmium Telluride (HgCdTe) detector arrays. This passive cooling concept is simple, reliable, and mission enabling when compared to the alternatives of mechanical coolers and stored cryogens. However, these same large scale observatory features, which make passive cooling viable, also prevent the typical flight configuration fully-deployed thermal balance test that is the keystone to most space missions’ thermal verification plan. JWST is simply too large in its deployed configuration to be properly thermal balance tested in the facilities that currently exist. This reality, when combined with a mission thermal concept with little to no flight heritage, has necessitated a unique and alternative approach to thermal system verification and model validation. This paper describes the thermal verification and model validation plan that has been developed for JWST. The plan relies on judicious use of cryogenic and thermal design margin, a completely independent thermal modeling cross check utilizing different analysis teams and software packages, and finally, a comprehensive set of thermal tests that occur at different levels of JWST assembly. After a brief description of the JWST mission and thermal architecture, a detailed description of the three aspects of the thermal verification and model validation plan is presented.