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[Image of crystals used in magnetic cooler.] [Branch Logo:  a polar bear posing with Robert Goddard's original 

   liquid-fueled rocket] [Closeup of dilution refrigerator.]
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         releasing helium gas from storage dewar. Scientist

            working on magnetic cooling system. Magnetic

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             coil. Student with lliquid nitrogen storage dewar.

Welcome to our Cryogenics Website

What Cryogenics Is And Isn't

Cryogenics is the study of low temperatures, from about 100 Kelvin (-280 Fahrenheit) down to absolute zero. In more detail, cryogenics is:

  • the study of how to produce low temperatures;
  • the study of what happens to materials when you've cooled them down.

If you're new to cryogenics, check out our Introduction to Cryogenics page.

Cryogenics is not:

  • the study of freezing and reviving people, called "cryonics", a confusingly similar term.

What Do We Use Cryogenics For?

Astronomers here at the Goddard Space Flight Center are always working to develop ever more sensitive sensors to catch even the weakest signals reaching us from the stars. Many of these sensors must be cooled well below room temperature to have the necessary sensitivity. Here are some examples of how cooling helps:

  • Infrared Sensors: infrared rays, also called "heat rays" are given off by all warm objects. Infrared telescopes must be cold so that their own radiation doesn't swamp the weak infrared signals from faraway astronomical objects. There will be infrared telescopes on the airborne infrared observatory SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.
  • Electronics: all sensors require electronics. Cooling electronics reduces the noise in the circuits and thus allows them to study weaker signals.
  • X-rays: the sensors for XRS, the X-Ray Spectrometer measure temperature changes induced by incoming x-rays. When the sensors are colder, the induced temperature changes are larger and easier to measure.

Who Wants to Know?

I've made some guesses as to who would want to see what type of information. Here are some links grouped according to my guesses.

Information for Working Cryogenicists

Information for Students, Teachers, and Other Interested People

If you are new to cryogenics, you might want to start with our Introduction to Cryogenics, including a Temperature Conversion Calculator for Fahrenheit, Celsius, Kelvin, and more!

Information for Anyone

See our Site Map.

We Can Work With You

The cryogenics group is looking for opportunities to work with groups inside and outside of NASA. New policies are making it easier for us to work with outside groups, including industry, academia, and other government agencies. Some of the ways we can work together include:

  • coordinated development projects in which each group performs work separately but information and data are shared and both organizations benefit;
  • work performed by our researchers in our facilities with funding from the outside organization;
  • work performed in our facilities by researchers from the outside organization.

For more details on how to partner with NASA, see the Innovative Partnership Program Web site at:
http://ipp.gsfc.nasa.gov/ and http://ipp.gsfc.nasa.gov/lic-partnerships.html.

For more information, please see our page of Cryogenics Branch contact information or contact the Innovative Partnership Program.

Our Projects

Technology Development Programs:

Flight Projects

More Cryogenic Information: Publications

Books on Cryogenics for experts and beginners.
Elementary Introductions, Textbooks, Laboratory Manuals, Reference Works
Advances in Cryogenic Engineering
Proceedings of the Cryogenic Engineering Conference
Space Cryogenics Workshop
Proceedings published in the journal Cryogenics

To Contact Us

If you have cryogenic questions that aren't answered by our website, including our introduction to cryogenics, or by our list of cryo books, check our list of people to contact.

+ Privacy Policy and Important Notices

NASA Official: Eric A. Silk
Curator: Mark 0. Kimball

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