The mechanical and thermal design and analysis of the VISTA infrared camera

R. L. Edeson, B. M. Shaughnessy, M. S. Whalley, K. Burke, J. Lucas Space Science and Technology Department, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 0QX, United Kingdom

The infrared camera for the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) sets many technical challenges for mechanical and thermal design. The flexion between optical subsystems must be minimised to maintain alignment in various camera orientations and meet performance requirements. Thermally induced stresses, atmospheric pressure and earthquake loads place high demands on structural components, some of which must also thermally isolate the cold (~70 K) detectors and optics. The success of the design hinges on the optimisation of heat flow to minimise thermal loads on the detectors whilst holding external temperatures very close to ambient to reduce misting and convective disturbances in the field of view. This paper describes the mechanical and thermal components of the design and discusses the analyses in detail. Keywords: VISTA, infrared camera, mechanical, thermal, modelling, cryogenic, vacuum.



The VISTA infrared (IR) camera is a wide-field infrared imager which is an integral part of the VISTA telescope1,2,3. Observations will begin in 2006 at the European Southern Observatory site at Cerro Paranal in Chile. The camera will be built, aligned and tested at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in the UK. It is currently entering its manufacturing phase. The mechanical and thermal design of the camera was performed largely at RAL, with input from project collaborators at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre and University of Durham. The various structural, thermal and optical requirements on the design necessitated an iterative approach between design and analysis models. Consequently, analysis models were created at an early stage in the design program, and continually updated as the overall design matured.



2.1 Camera description The VISTA IR camera will be approximately three metres long and weigh around three tonnes (see Fig. 1). The outer cryostat vacuum vessel will be assembled from several fabricated aluminium alloy sections, and essentially comprises a tube with a large bulge in one side to accommodate a filter wheel. A fused silica window seals the end of this camera tube. A series of electronics boxes are mounted around the base of the camera for detector control and signal processing. A flange around the midsection constitutes the mechanical interface with the Cassegrain rotator on the telescope. Three two-stage cryo-coolers are used to maintain the camera at the required operating temperature (see Sec. 3).

Filters. and the structure supporting the focal plane. a large aluminium alloy structure which is also the support for the lens assembly. 1. Section view of the VISTA IR camera.Window Baffles Optical bench Lens barrel Interface flange Liquid nitrogen heat exchanger Glass Fibre Reinforced Plastic (GFRP) trusses Cooler Filter wheel Focal Plane Assembly (FPA) Electronics box Wavefront Sensor (WFS) Fig. At the focal plane is an array of 16 detectors. Directly below the lens barrel is a pair of wavefront sensors. The base of this baffle tube is mounted on an optical bench. housed in a rotating filter wheel assembly. Positioned in the bore of the camera is a tubular assembly housing a series of ellipsoidal baffles. each mounted to a molybdenum base. are positioned between the wavefront sensors and the focal plane. a liquid nitrogen heat exchanger (for cooldown of the camera to operating temperature). which are then in turn bolted onto a molybdenum “detector plate” (see .

This approach successfully gave ownership of different parts of the model to different people. such as thermal. Detectors Molybdenum plate FPA support frame (aluminium) Molybdenum location pin Titanium flexure Fig. structural. allowing potential problems to be identified early. STEP format files were used as the intermediary. This detector plate is supported from an aluminium superstructure by three titanium flexures. A main assembly model of the entire camera was created.2 The mechanical design model The mechanical design of the camera was performed mostly using the 3D CAD software Pro Engineer4. Although this approach was successful in bringing together complex assemblies of different formats. 2. Project engineers and work package managers had visibility of the overall model at any point in time. The collaborative nature of the project means that there have been several instances where geometry had to be imported from other CAD systems. This way they could monitor progress. the design has been iterated with other subsystems.Fig. the imported geometry could not be modified and the files sometimes contained more detail than required in the overall model. . 2). made up of various sub-assemblies and parts which could be worked on by different designers at the same time. 2. as well as extracting information such as dimensions and mass properties for hand calculations and analysis models. Thermal straps connect each detector to a thermally controlled plate. Beneath this focal plane assembly (FPA) is a “cold” electronics box. In these cases. connected to those outside the cryostat vessel via vacuum feedthroughs in the vessel base. The overall CAD assembly model was also a valuable tool during technical meetings. and enabled different areas to develop concurrently5. Section view of the detector mounting plate. Over time. and located laterally by a spherically-ended molybdenum pin in a cylindrical hole. and optical.

in order to minimise the effect of convective disturbances in the field of view. that no unwanted interferences or gaps would occur during cooldown.1 Thermal requirements The temperature requirements for camera internal components are defined from requirements on radiative flux reaching the focal plane (see table 1). The operational requirements for external surfaces are given in Table 2. Quite apart from any possible issues with material stress or movements of sensitive optical assemblies. The baffle tube assembly. for some of the larger components.4 Design for assembly. and mechanism models run to ensure that the full range of movement of the camera (pitch and roll) was possible. . which relies on good thermal conduction across bolted interfaces. On cooling this results in a change in geometry rather than a uniform scaling of dimensions. there are significant dimensional changes from room temperature to operating temperature. For instance aluminium (as used in the FPA) would shrink approximately 4 mm per metre during the cooldown. It was decided at an early stage to generate the initial CAD geometry using operating temperature dimensions. CAD models were used to aid design for access and installation.3 Design at different temperatures One issue with the “cold” parts of the assembly (the baffles. FPA. A related issue is with loss of preload on bolted joints due to the different coefficients of thermal expansion (CTE) of bolt and joint materials during cooldown. and conversely. and therefore a constant scaling factor could be applied to obtain room temperature dimensions for manufacturing drawings. Therefore provision was made during the design for the addition of low-CTE spacers or spring washers to counteract the differential contraction and therefore maintain preload. this required an examination of clearances between close-fitting parts to ensure that assembly would still be possible at room temperature. without misting of the window. and with the midsection supported by dedicated handling equipment at its Cassegrain rotator interface. has a temperature gradient along its length. and it is the optical design that determines certain key dimensions for the layout of the camera. in ambient temperatures of 0 to 15 °C and relative humidity up to 70%. however. There are parts of the camera that are very complex and will be difficult to handle due to their size and weight. This is because the optical configuration had been defined at operating temperature. Further ‘functional’ temperature ranges have been defined. 3 THERMAL DESIGN 3. Only when the details of temperatures and materials have been determined is it possible to determine the geometry at other temperatures. There are also requirements on maximum allowable temperature difference between the cryostat and the ambient air. installation and maintenance The mechanical design of the camera was carried out with assembly sequences in mind. for which the humidity for operation without window misting must be determined. The cryostat vessel is designed around a central “midsection” with good internal access when the main cryostat tube and “lower section” are removed. 3) showed that much of the cold aluminium structure could be assumed isothermal. Assembly will be conducted with the camera in a horizontal position. In particular this could have a detrimental effect on baffle temperature performance. 2. Interface control documents with other subsystems were also defined “cold”. The thermal analysis (see Sec. filter wheel and attached parts which operate at wellbelow ambient temperature) was whether to design them “hot” or “cold”. The same assembly shrinks about 6 mm in the axial direction on cooldown.2. This necessitated a more detailed examination of cooldown effects along its length. The camera must operate.

5 -3.0 1.5 K. °C 0 °C Ambient 15 °C Ambient Maximum Minimum Maximum Minimum 1. . In general. Operational temperature requirements for camera external surfaces. Attached to the optical bench is a liquid nitrogen heat exchanger.1. The external surface temperature of the cryostat is maintained by software controlled heaters (~40 W maximum). K < 190 < 170 < 190 < 150 < 150 77 ± 5 (a. therefore the third cooler provides a considerable margin against uncertainties in heat-lift.5 -5. Item Window Cryostat above Cassegrain rotator interface Cryostat below Cassegrain rotator interface Temperature requirement. The first stage of each cooler is coupled to the optical bench by high-purity copper links.b) (a) passive equilibrium temperature must be < 70 K to demonstrate active control can be achieved.0 Table 2. Baffle components are manufactured from aluminium and all interfaces are required to be firmly bolted to ensure that temperature requirements are achieved. internal components viewing the warmer cryostat have a low emissivity finish to minimise radiative heat transfer. however. Summary of internal temperature requirements. and thermal links to the cryo-coolers. and gradients between any two detectors must not exceed 0. The key drivers for the thermal design are the strict temperature requirements defined in Sec.5 10. used for initial cooldown of the camera from ambient temperature.0 1. which form a second skin within the cryostat. as they are cold. however. It is decoupled from the cold internal components by virtue of a low-emissivity internal finish and polished stainless steel radiation shields.5 -4.5 10. A heater is also fitted for warm-up of the cryostat. Analysis has shown that requirements are very nearly achieved with only two coolers. Table 1. The cryostat is cooled by three two-stage Leybold 5/100T cryo-coolers.0 16.2 Summary of thermal design The design principle is to thermally isolate the camera internals from the warm cryostat vacuum vessel. 3. whereas surfaces viewing the detectors are black-painted to minimise stray-light. The baffles absorb stray-light in the near infrared.0 16. To minimise the parasitic heat loads the optical bench is mounted to the cryostat using a series of low-conductance glass fibre reinforced plastic (GFRP) trusses which restrict the heat flow from the structure to about 1 W. The edge of the window is fitted with a kapton film heater (~90 W maximum) to provide additional heat to prevent misting. (b) gradients within any one detector must not exceed 0. The external surfaces. Considerable design effort was required to develop a link design that allows for contractions during cooldown and is also relatively straightforward to assemble. must be well-coupled to the ambient environment to minimise temperature differences.5 K. The second stage of each cooler is coupled to the detector thermal plate (see below) by copper straps.5 12.6 16. 3.Item Baffles as seen by detectors Correction lens mounting Optics Region between detectors and lower lens Filters Infrared detectors Temperature.

they must have a low emissivity in the thermal infrared to decouple them from the window. A sensitivity study was undertaken to assess the impact of key parameters on temperature predictions of items without active temperature control. and molybdenum plate to which they are mounted. Nodes are defined and can be allocated a thermal capacitance to enable transient calculations. 3. The user may incorporate further routines to describe. The uncertainty is lower for baffles closer to the interface with the optical bench. ESATAN uses a thermal network representation. the uncertainty was predicted to be within ±10 °C. the operation of the cryo-coolers. The detectors. are conductively isolated from the rest of the internals by the three titanium flexures. With the exception of the baffle assembly. 3. Fig. The radiative couplings were calculated using ESARAD. . for example. Predicted temperature profile within the cryostat in the 0 °C ambient case (temperatures in °C). radiative and convective couplings between nodes. Thermal straps connect each detector to a separate. thermal plate that is cooled via straps to the second stage of the cryo-coolers and controlled via a 10 W heater.3 Models Detailed thermal mathematical models of the camera have been constructed using the European Space Agency standard software ESATAN and ESARAD6. demonstrating that the camera thermal performance is compliant with the technical specifications. high-conductivity. a geometric modelling package. All temperature requirements are met with substantial margin. Therefore the windowfacing surfaces are covered with a selective absorber.4 Predictions The steady-state predictions for the nominal operating conditions are summarised in Table 3.3 shows the ESARAD geometric model with temperatures overlaid for the 0 °C ambient case. 3. or fluctuations in power dissipation. The thermal network is established by specifying conductive. The opposite faces are black-painted to absorb stray light. Fig. The maximum uncertainty in the baffle temperatures was -12 °C / +22 °C and is due to the large number of bolted interfaces.

1 Load cases The structural requirements for the IR camera required verification by analysis for a number of different loading states. A summary of the considered effects and resulting load cases is given in Table 4. 88 X degrees altitude angle Table 4. the considered effects are marked with an X. survival loading and flexion. and interface loads for the sizing of bolts. demonstrating that detectors can be controlled within requirements. 45. Table 3. Summary of applicable load cases – for each of the 17 load cases. The load cases are divided into four categories: operating. stresses and strains in structural components. 90 X X X X X X X X degrees altitude angle X X X X X X X X X Operating thermal Cool-down / warm-up X non-equilibrium thermal X Cryogenic failure thermal X X Earthquake OBE X Earthquake MLE X Slewing decelerations X Survival wind speed X X Handling X Transport Gravity at 20.4 11 14 14 (a) To demonstrate that the detector can be cooled below 70 K. 45. Raw temperature predictions for the nominal operating cases. short term accidental loading (STAL). the detector plate heater is inactive.6 1 0 0 108 80 77 48. The results of interest included flexion of the focal plane under different conditions. A further simulation has shown that the detectors may be driven to about 90 K by applying the 10 W heater. °C Window outer surface Cryostat above Cassegrain rotator interface Cryostat below Cassegrain rotator interface 147 94 81 48.5 -3 -1 -1 169 108 91 43. K Baffles Lens assembly Filters Detectors(a) External items. X X X .5 16 15 15 123 90 85 43.Temperature Prediction 0 °C Ambient 15 °C Ambient Maximum Minimum Maximum Minimum Internal Items. Short Term Accidental Loading 6 7 8 9 10 11 Survival Loading 12 13 14 Operational Loading Structural Considered Effects 1 2 3 4 5 Flexion 15 16 17 Atmospheric and internal X X X X X X X X X X pressures loads Gravity at 0. 4 STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS 4.

an approach was taken to build simplified volume models in CAD using primitive geometric entities. tapped holes and small fillet radii) did not alter the overall assembly geometry..5 Yield 1. Handling and transport loads involved loads around special lifting features in the camera. The generation of geometry from scratch in ANSYS would be too time consuming. Instead. the Pro Engineer model was far too complex to easily de-feature. For slipping at bolted friction-grip interfaces.2 Structural requirements Margins of safety on failure for static loads must be above zero for compliance and were calculated as: MOS = (maximum allowable load) (actual applied load × safety factor) -1 (1) Safety factors were required on ultimate tensile strength (UTS). An Operating Basis Earthquake (OBE) is defined as an earthquake of moderate size but with a high probability of occurrence during the lifetime of the observatory. and would give rise to possible nonconformances with the CAD model. UTS 4 4 2. A maximum likely earthquake (MLE) is an earthquake with a large magnitude but a lower probability of occurrence. Complex 3D solid parts were defeatured in Pro Engineer and directly imported to ANSYS for assembly and meshing. 4). This pressure load will be seen during testing activities at RAL. Both models were necessarily complex.e. Safety factors. however in operation. atmospheric loading will be about 75% of this value. yield and fatigue strengths as given in Table 5. In areas where shell elements (with six degrees-of-freedom per node) were attached to solid elements (with only three degrees-of-freedom) per node.81 ms-2. 4. The exteriors of these CAD solids were modified slightly so they would lie in the mid-plane of the resulting shell elements (see Fig. a thin mesh of shells was generated over the solid elements to transmit the rotational degrees-of-freedom and avoid hinge-type effects. For the cryostat model. the cold mass was treated as a point mass and from the cold mass point of view. Operational Loading Short Term Accidental Loading Survival Table 5. Slewing decelerations are rotational decelerations which come about during braking of the telescope.4 Model generation The Finite Element Analysis (FEA) package used was ANSYS 6. shell.5 1. a “hybrid” approach was used for generating the initial ANSYS geometry. and would have necessitated much re-assembly work to ensure that the removal of unwanted features (i. Gravitational acceleration was taken as 9. the cryostat was a rigid body. . the yield safety factors were used.325 Pa.Atmospheric pressure loading was taken at sea level as 101. An import/export feature between ANSYS and Pro Engineer was used. Some data on the levels was available in the form of ground-response acceleration spectra for the region. and structurally the only link between the two is the series of eight thermally insulating GFRP trusses. Conversely. For thin-walled structures.2 Fatigue 2 N/A N/A 4. A similar strategy was used with beam elements. involving a combination of solid.3 Model philosophy The cold mass and cryostat vessel were de-coupled for ease of analysis. beam and point mass elements. and potential drop-loads during transport. 4.5 1.17. Both structures are similar in terms of the modelling complexity required.

Material properties were input over a range of temperatures from room temperature to absolute zero. Generation of FEA shell geometry from CAD model. Thermal contraction. with FEA results leading to further design iteration. such as Young’s Modulus and Poisson’s Ratio. it was decided that a quasi-static acceleration would suffice if it could be demonstrated that there was little or no dynamic response of the structure below a certain frequency (thereby avoiding any coupling with . there was little change over this range. however. varies appreciably for many of the materials used. These constraints were moved to the lifting point interface locations for analysis of handling loads. with exterior surfaces at midplanes of true geometry Final meshed FEA model Fig. 4. Original CAD model Solid model generated in CAD. so had to be defined as a series of data points in the model. 4. For earthquake loads. For most relevant properties.5 Loading Boundary conditions for the outer cryostat were defined simply by constraining a circle of nodes around the Cassegrain rotator interface flange corresponding to mounting bolt positions.

8 55. handling loads (where the camera is supported at certain handling points).7 548 543 546 551 548 553 0.4 14.9 20.9 25.3 0. 4.0 Thermal plate Cu 12.8 50.4 58.3 25. For the baffle tube. and applying it in three mutually orthogonal directions simultaneously.5 3.6 71.4 2.3 Material: Loading: Atmospheric Gravity - Al 0. Detector plate and Pin OB structure Electronics box Al 0.8 6.4 71.8 2.5 49.6 Operating thermal Combined 1.3 0.5 9.6 1.6 0.2 15.8 2.1 62. and to help file management and archiving.9 Al 3.4 0.3 12.4 25.4 13 7.7 58.9 10.6 80.5 7. Temperature loads were taken from the thermal analysis model.9 59.6 1.3 1. Average temperatures for the various sub-assemblies were applied at several nodes around the centre of the sub-assembly in the FEA model.9 Flexures Ti 7.4 3.0 51.9 12 4.6 50.4 FW Hub Al 1.1 Table 6.8 1.6 11. This was done by finding the maximum possible resultant acceleration magnitude.5 50.9 11. Other loads analysed were air pressure and wind loading on the exterior of the cryostat vessel. Von Mises stress results in MPa in different parts of the model under operational loading.1 0. ANSYS “loadsteps” were used.2 56.1 2. transport loads.8 9.3 6.7 6.5 1. with all results being written to a single file.8 6.7 0.6 23. This approach yields substantially conservative results.8 1.4 3.1 25.3 10.3 50.4 3.8 19.7 8.telescope and building resonances). and rotational decelerations.7 5.4 70.1 Mo 0.3 0.5 3.2 74.7 Results In general.4 2.3 0.1 62.3 25.6 Handling MOS on UTS MOS on yield 42.8 0.5 0.1 2.3 0.1 17.4 1.2 49.6 71.7 0.6 0. .6 1. along with margins of safety on Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS) and yield strength.9 12 12.7 15.7 11.1 70. 4. To simplify this.8 14.7 16 58. A number of loadsteps can be solved sequentially in a single run.1 0.4 0.6 0. Then an analysis was run in ANSYS which generated interpolated temperatures at every other node in the model.6 28.8 0.1 3.2 3. giving a resultant acceleration vector.3 FPA frame and subframe Baffle tube WFS Plate Cryostat Vessel Structure Al 58.4 0.9 22. Gravity was applied combined with these.4 13.1 11.8 Al GFRP 19.1 80. A loadstep is a particular loading case for the FEA model defined in a separate file.6 21.4 2.5 10.7 2.6 60.3 25.7 0.2 8.7 11.6 1.7 6. The output from this run can be used as a load input for further analyses.4 48.9 62.1 62 62 62.4 3.3 1.4 0.3 0. four harsher load cases were identified which enveloped the possible loads.6 1.4 2.2 -0.7 6.6 4.3 74. stresses in the outer cryostat vessel were dominated by atmospheric pressure while stresses in the cold mass were dominated by thermo-elastic effects (see Table 6).1 -0.1 1.6 1.5 0.4 0.7 0.6 1.6 74.7 18.1 0.5 Trusses Baffles Al - Al 0. There were a large number of permutations when combining different gravity vectors required for analysis (due to changing telescope orientation) with an effectively arbitrary choice of direction for assumed quasi-static earthquake accelerations. maximum and minimum temperatures were used at the top and bottom of the baffle tube respectively.5 17.6 Solution To simplify the running of a large number of analyses.8 38.

4. The resulting stress levels were acceptable (see Sec. In these particular cases.For operational loading results. These are both areas where the accommodation of large deflections is necessary. margins of safety were positive except for several of the earthquake scenarios.8 Submodels There were a number of areas which required special analysis. one such area was the cryostat window. Similarly. there were initially negative margins of safety at the GFRP trusses and the titanium flexures. A low but positive MOS can therefore be seen as a sign that the design is near-optimal in meeting these conflicting requirements. This problem was examined using a 2-dimensional axi-symmetric model with contact elements allowing sliding with frictional forces between glass and seal (see Fig. . In the case of the titanium flexures. 4. failure would be through crack propagation in areas of tension in the material. which were used in sizing mounting bolts. Pressure Window O-ring Silicone rubber pad Aluminium seat Fig. without compromising stiffness. Being a brittle material. without impacting on tilts or translations at the FPA appreciably. For the STAL and survival load cases. 6. Results for translations and rotations at the focal plane were fed into the optical image quality analysis. 6). Other results of interest were reaction loads at mounting positions. showing silicone rubber pads preventing glass-to-metal contact. it was possible to reduce the stiffness of the GFRP trusses in the radial direction (the direction of large deflection) and maintain compliance with natural frequency and deflection requirements. the earthquake acceleration state was decomposed and more realistic loads were applied. Contact analysis of O-ring seal at window. A seating arrangement was designed whereby silicone rubber pads prevent glass-to-metal contact occurring once the sealing O-ring had been compressed. it was shown that halving their thickness would halve stress levels on cooldown to an acceptable level.5). Modal and buckling analyses both gave results compliant with requirements.

Eng. University of Edinburgh. Soc. and requirements on thermal flux at the focal plane have been met. to Queen Mary University of London on behalf of the 18 University members of the VISTA Consortium of: Queen Mary University of London. Opt. et al. Inc. Proc SPIE Int. Soc.. as well as the mechanical effects of the low operating temperatures. University of Birmingham. REFERENCES [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] Emerson. Soc.. ANSYS FEA software. Opt. Parametric Technology Corporation. the design has recently passed a final design review. M.techcentreuk. University of St Andrews. The bulk of the mechanical design work on the camera has been performed at RAL using powerful CAD Throughout the design phase. structural FEA and thermal analyses. Proc SPIE Int. University of Oxford. Alstom Power Technology Centre. University of Central Lancashire.ptc. VISTA is funded by a grant from the UK Joint Infrastructure Fund.power. 5492-34 (2004). and movements of optical components have been assessed. Liverpool John Moores University. http://www. “The VISTA IR Camera”. 5497-06 (2004). Eng. 5489-46 (2004). et al. G. http://www. P. University of Durham. Software Products . Opt. University of Cambridge. et al. Cardiff University. Pro Engineer. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The VISTA IR team gratefully acknowledges help and advice received from University of Durham and the UK Astronomy Technology Centre. “The VISTA Project: a Review of its Progress and Lessons Learned Developing the Current Programme”..ansys. A number of technical challenges have been overcome through close cooperation between the relevant disciplines. Requirements of structural integrity under many environmental conditions have been verified through analysis. et al. Proc SPIE Int. “Aspects of Concurrent Design During the VISTA IR Camera Detailed Design Phase”.com/ . Leicester University.35-42 (2002).com/ Caldwell. as well as expert users. “The Visible and Infra Red Survey Telescope for Astronomy: Overview”. Queen's University of Belfast.. Proc SPIE Int. The design process has benefited greatly from the specialised software packages available.Overview. http://www. p. Opt. supported by the Office of Science and Technology and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Soc. and University College London. Eng 4836. careful attention has been given to assembly and integration issues.. Keele University. and the project has now entered its manufacturing phase. Eng. J. Having been verified successfully by analysis. ANSYS. The thermal design has matured with the mechanical design. University of Southampton. A. University of Nottingham.5 CONCLUSION The VISTA IR camera is a complex design which has required an iterative approach between CAD. University of Hertfordshire. Finite element analysis has also been an aspect of the design process. Dalton. University of Sussex.

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