Development of 3D MLI under ESA contract in frame of the Task Force II for Polish industry
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The MLI – Multi-Layer Insulation is widely used passive thermal control element. Its role is to thermally prevent satellites or instrument from heat losses or excessive heating from external environment. To minimize the conductive heat exchange between insulating layers the spacers made of low-conductive material are used. This kind of thermal control is very effective for large surfaces with not very complicated shape. The enclosed structure requires gluing or sewing layers with each other at the contact place. Additional sewing or curvatures cause degradation of the insulation properties of the blanket. The layers at the contact areas are very close to each other which increases the contact conductance between them, and thus result in higher heat fluxes transferred through the layers. The main part of the project realized within ESA Contract No. 4000112661/14/NL/CBi is to develop a 3D MLI, which will be created of set of thin foils, where each of them will be specially formed to dedicated shapes and sizes. The idea is to decrease the conductive contact between layers caused by sewing and curvatures. The work performed and presented in this paper includes analyses for different MLI configurations to show how the shape and imperfections of the typical MLI may affect the heat exchange in comparison with the 3D Multi-Layer Insulation. The proposed solution will be discussed showing its advantages and disadvantages as well as the potential applications.