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Auto-tuned thermal control on stratospheric balloon experiments

Redmond, S.; Benton, S.; Brown, A.M.; Clark, P.; Damaren, C.J.; Eifler, T.; Fraisse, A.A.; Galloway, M.N.; Hartley, J.W.; Jauzac, M.; Jones, W.C.; Li, L.; Luu, T.V.; Massey, R.J.; McCleary, J.; Netterfield, C.B.; Rhodes, J.D.; Romualdez, L.J.; Schmoll, J.; Tam, S.-I.

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S. Redmond

S. Benton

A.M. Brown

P. Clark

C.J. Damaren

T. Eifler

A.A. Fraisse

M.N. Galloway

J.W. Hartley

W.C. Jones

L. Li

T.V. Luu

J. McCleary

C.B. Netterfield

J.D. Rhodes

L.J. Romualdez

J. Schmoll

S.-I. Tam


Heather K. Marshall

Jason Spyromilio

Roberto Gilmozzi


Balloon-borne experiments present unique thermal design challenges, which are a combination of those present for both space and ground experiments. Radiation and conduction are the predominant heat transfer mechanisms with convection effects being minimal and difficult to characterize at 35-40 km. This greatly constrains the thermal design options and makes predicting flight thermal behaviour very difficult. Due to the limited power available on long duration balloon flights, efficient heater control is an important factor in minimizing power consumption. SuperBIT, or the Super-Pressure Balloon-borne Imaging Telescope, aims to study weak gravitational lensing using a 0.5m modified Dall-Kirkham telescope capable of achieving 0.02" stability1 and capturing deep exposures from visible to near UV wavelengths. To achieve the theoretical stratospheric diffraction-limited resolution of 0.25",2 mirror deformation gradients must be kept to within 20 nm. The thermal environment must be stable on time scales of an hour and the thermal gradients on the telescope must be minimized. During its 2018 test-flight, SuperBIT will implement two types of thermal parameter solvers: one for post-flight characterization and one for in-flight control. The payload has 85 thermistors as well as pyranometers and far-infrared sensors which will be used post-flight to further understand heat transfer in the stratosphere. This document describes the in-flight thermal control method, which predicts the thermal circuit of components and then auto-tunes the heater PID gains. Preliminary ground testing shows the ability to control the components to within 0.01 K.


Redmond, S., Benton, S., Brown, A., Clark, P., Damaren, C., Eifler, T., …Tam, S. (2018). Auto-tuned thermal control on stratospheric balloon experiments. In H. K. Marshall, J. Spyromilio, & R. Gilmozzi (Eds.), Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes VII : 10–15 June 2018, Austin, Texas, United States ; proceedings.

Conference Name SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation
Conference Location Austin, Texas, United States
Online Publication Date Jul 6, 2018
Publication Date Jul 6, 2018
Deposit Date Sep 24, 2018
Publicly Available Date Sep 26, 2018
Series Title Astronomy Group; Proceedings of SPIE
Series Number 10700
Series ISSN 0277-786X,1996-756X
Book Title Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes VII : 10–15 June 2018, Austin, Texas, United States ; proceedings.
ISBN 9781510619531
Public URL


Published Conference Proceeding (788 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Copyright 2018 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. One print or electronic copy may be made for
personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited.

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