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Microgravity Spray Cooling Research for High Powered Laser ApplicationsAn extremely powerful laser is being developed at Goddard Space Flight Center for use on a satellite. This laser has several potential applications. One application is to use it for upper atmosphere weather research. In this case, the laser would reflect off aerosols in the upper atmosphere and bounce back to the satellite, where the aerosol velocities could be calculated and thus the upper atmosphere weather patterns could be monitored. A second application would be for the US. Air Force, which wants to use the laser strategically as a weapon for satellite defense. The Air Force fears that in the coming years as more and more nations gain limited space capabilities that American satellites may become targets, and the laser could protect the satellites. Regardless of the ultimate application, however, a critical step along the way to putting the laser in space is finding a way to efficiently cool it. While operating the laser becomes very hot and must be cooled to prevent overheating. On earth, this is accomplished by simply running cool tap water over the laser to keep it cool. But on a satellite, this is too inefficient. This would require too much water mass to be practical. Instead, we are investigating spray cooling as a means to cool the laser in microgravity. Spray cooling requires much less volume of fluid, and thus could be suitable for use on a satellite. We have inherited a 2.2 second Drop Tower rig to conduct our research with. In our experiments, water is pressurized with a compressed air tank and sprayed through a nozzle onto our test plate. We can vary the pressure applied to the water and the temperature of the plate before an experiment trial. The whole process takes place in simulated microgravity in the 2.2 second Drop Tower, and a high speed video camera records the spray as it hits the plate. We have made much progress in the past few weeks on these experiments. The rig originally did not have the capability to heat the test plate, but I did some heat transfer calculations and picked out a heater to order for the rig. I learned QBasic programming language to change the operating code for our drops, allowing us to rapidly cycle the spray nozzle open and closed to study the effects. We have derived an equation for flow rate vs. pressure for our experiment. We have recorded several videos of drops at different pressures, some with heated test plate and some without, and have noticed substantial differences in the liquid behavior. I have also changed the computer program to write a file with temperature vs. time profiles for the test plate, and once the necessary thermocouple comes in (it was ordered last week), we will have temperature profiles to accompany the videos. Once we have these temperature profiles to go with the videos, we will be able to see how the temperature is affected by the spray at different pressures, and how the spray changes its behavior once as the plate changes from hot to cool. With quantitative temperature data, we can then mathematically model the heat transfer from the plate to the cooling spray. Finally, we can look at the differences between trials in microgravity and those in normal earth gravity.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Zivich, Chad P. (Case Western Reserve Univ. Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Research Symposium II
Subject Category
Lasers and Masers
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

Related Records

IDRelationTitle20050186580Analytic PrimaryResearch Symposium II