The Space Dynamics Lab Prepares to Cool Things Off

June 24, 2002

LOGAN — Things will definitely become cold as Utah State University Research Foundation's Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) prepares to install Cache Valley's largest liquid nitrogen tank in its new Calibration and Optical Research Center this Friday.

The tank, which measures 32 feet high by 11 feet in diameter and weighs 23.5 tons (empty), will have to be hoisted over 65 feet in the air and then lowered into the building's specially designed enclosure. The 11,000-gallon tank will be used to support the large thermal vacuum chambers in the new building.

"This is not your typical construction project," said Frank Walker, SDL's construction coordinator. "Installing the liquid nitrogen tank, pouring 1.5 million pounds of concrete in one day and countless other challenges have made overseeing the construction of this building exciting."

The liquid nitrogen cools a chamber to minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing SDL to simulate space environments in vacuum chambers for testing and calibration. With the new additions, SDL will have the cryogenic capabilities to accommodate large space hardware systems.

"SDL has already gained national and international prominence in developing methods of accurately evaluating and calibrating electro-optical sensors for the past 20 years," said Frank Redd, deputy director of SDL. "Additions like this nitrogen tank allow SDL to expand its resources."

Completion of the new 43,000 square foot building is scheduled for this September. The calibration center is SDL's fifth building, bringing its total size to 173,000 square feet.

Along with the testing facilities, the research center will include an auditorium, offices, conference rooms, and storage areas. The auditorium will be used for company meetings and conferences such as the Annual Conference on Characterization and Radiometric Calibration for Remote Sensing, which SDL has hosted for the past decade.