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NASA Partners with Utah State University's Space Dynamics Lab

Friday, May. 03, 2013

SDL Thermal and Optical Research chamber

SDL's Thermal and Optical Research chamber provides the capability to simulate the space environment for thermal balance testing, allows sensors to reach in-flight temperatures and provides a low infrared background for precise calibration testing.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Innovative Partnerships Office has entered into a Space Act Agreement with Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL), North Logan, Utah, to develop a high-resolution optical encoder.

The partnership, funded by SDL through a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement, allows for the joint development of a high-resolution cryogenic optical encoder — an angular position sensor — to be used in conjunction with the laboratory’s large, evacuated Thermal and Optical Research (THOR) chamber. The period of performance is for one year from October 10, 2012.

The encoder will be used to very accurately measure the pointing angle of a large, high precision mirror in a second vacuum chamber connected to THOR.  Using this encoder technology, the Space Dynamics Laboratory expects to reduce uncertainties in the performance and calibration of space-based sensor systems and to increase efficiency of sensor calibrations it performs for NASA and the Department of Defense programs. NASA Goddard’s Doug Leviton invented and patented this encoder technology.

Related links:

Goddard’s Innovative Partnerships Office

Space Dynamics Laboratory


Source: NASA press release

Contacts at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.: Scott Leonardi, 301-286-4698,; Cynthia O’Carroll, 301-286-4787,

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