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Lockhead Advances Cryogenic Research

SmartTrak® 100 Mass Flow Meter

Lockheed Martin researches, designs, manufactures, and integrates advanced technology systems for the U.S. Department of Defense and NASA. Eric Roth, a Lockheed physicist, tests infrared sensors used for positioning systems in deep-space satellites and Liquid Nitrogen super-conducting electronics. These instruments will not function at normal temperatures. Roth uses a cryogenic refrigerator to test that these mission critical instruments will function properly in the cold of deep-space.

Roth required a flow meter to measure the inlet gas mass flow rate of helium to their cryogenic refrigerator. He uses helium instead of FREON (commonly used in refrigerators) because the instruments he tests will only operate correctly at extremely low temperatures approaching absolute zero. Knowing the thermal properties of helium gas, Roth calculates the operating temperature—the more gas he uses, the more heat dumped into the helium gas stream, the lower the temperature.


For Roth, it’s mission critical that the cryogenic temperature is accurate--it must precisely simulate the cold atmosphere of deep-space. The reliability and repeatability of the SmartTrak® 100’s gas flow reading consistently maintains the correct temperature into the cryogenic refrigerator.

After these experiments, Roth trusts that these instruments will perform well in the cold of deep-space. The Sierra solution helps maintain the integrity of these mission critical experiments by offering precise and reliable mass flow readings. Companies that manufacture the infrared sensors and superconducting circuits destined for use in space craft depend on Lockheed’s experiments to quantify the performance of their products. Lockheed depends on Sierra’s SmartTrak for accurate test results.

Roth’s research effectiveness is the direct result of the SmartTrak’s patented, inherently linear Laminar Flow Element (LFE) design, advanced platinum sensor technology, and Sierra’s proprietary frictionless-hovering control valve. SmartTrak 100 is also available with an innovative and user-friendly Pilot Module, a front-mounted or hand-held control device that allows users to Dial-A-Gas®, change flow rate, modify engineering units or re-configure the instrument. With the Pilot Module, the user can set zero, span and full scale for each of 10 different gases independently to accommodate unexpected application or system design changes.

Here’s what makes Sierra’s SmartTrak 100 an ideal choice:
  • Patented, inherently linear Laminar Flow Element (LFE) design
  • Provides smooth and flexible valve performance
  • Pilot Module allows user to switch between ten pre-programmed gases, change setpoint value and source, set zero, span and full scale, modify engineering units, choose output signal...and much more
  • Has more robust electronics than other industry mass flow controllers