Future X-ray observatories in space, such as European Space Agency's (ESA) X-ray evolving universe spectroscopy (XEUS) mission, will require cooling to the region 10-100 mK to enable the utilisation of advanced cryogenic photon detectors in cryogenic spectrometer instruments. Such missions are envisaged to be completely cryogen-free, replacing the traditional superfluid liquid helium cryostat with a space worthy mechanically cooled system. As part of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory's (MSSL) adiabatic demagnetisation refrigerator (ADR) development programme, we have investigated the construction of a flight cryostat containing a 10 mK ADR (the MSSL double ADR (dADR)) that can be cooled by a single Astrium (formally Matra Marconi Space (MMS)) 4 K mechanical cooler. A proto-type dADR has been constructed and will be flight proven as part of a sounding rocket payload, where the dADR system will be used to cool an array of superconducting tunnel junction (STJ) detectors at the focus of an X-ray telescope. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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