Greenbank, West Virginia - The National Radio Observatory (NRAO)'s satellite telescope - said to be the largest equatorial satellite telescope in the world - was recently insulated using polyurethane foam.
Ken Wells, owner of Elite Insulation & Poly Pro llc, said in a 18 Aug news release that he was contracted by the NRAO to furnish and apply spray PU foam and elastomeric coating on the polar shaft of the 43-metre telescope.
Installed in the 1960s, the telescope, located in Greenbank, West Virginia, is currently being used in a collaborative project with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to study pulsars - rapidly spinning stars that can beam light.
According to Wells, the metal exterior of the polar shaft was expanding on the sunny side and not on the shade side, due to excessive heat from the sun. The metal expansion caused measurements taken by NRAO scientists to come out inaccurate.
To solve the issue of the expanding metal, Wells and his team applied Lapolla's closed-cell foam and Lapolla's TF-1000 quick set elastomeric coatings.
"The foam and coatings helped the polar shaft to stay at a uniform temperature," said Wells. "If one side is exposed to the sun, it will be kept the same temperature as the opposite [non-exposed] side."
Weather proved to be a challenging obstacle for Wells and his team from Elite Insulation & Poly Pro of Broadway, West Virginia, while spraying the 1000-sq-ft (93sq.m) job.
"We were given the job in September of ," said Wells. "At the time, the roofing season as coming a close and the weather was not favourable for an exterior foam application. The NRAO complex is way up in the mountains of West Virginia and the weather there is fairly extreme. We were forced to wait until the spring of the following year to find a suitable day."
That day came in May 2011. With the improved weather conditions, they were able to meet all necessary safety and exterior spray application requirements for Wells and his crew to begin work on the telescope.
Two days later, the job was completed with positive reactions from the NRAO scientists. "They absolutely loved it," concluded Wells. "Everything went well."