Thermal Modelling of CubeSats in ESATAN-TMS: A Modular Approach



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2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems


"Miniaturization has allowed CubeSats to enter the domains of Earth observation, RF-oriented missions, and astronomy, surpassing its original intention of being an educational instrument. With the increase in power density, thermal control measures are needed for CubeSats, requiring low-cost hardware and software solutions, which are currently hardly available. The deficit of thermal control solutions for CubeSats is inherently related to their short development time resulting in suboptimal thermal designs. Miniaturization and application of thermal control systems is being worked on (1,2), however evaluating design iterations is hindered by the lack of thermal analysis imposing large uncertainties in the thermal design of CubeSats. The conventional method of validation and model correlation to reduce model uncertainties takes too much time and is therefore excluded for CubeSats.
ISIS - Innovative Solutions in Space and the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre, NLR have worked together on an innovative modular approach for CubeSat thermal analyses in ESATAN-TMS. Key of this approach is the interchangeability and scalability of validated thermal sub-models allowing for fast and more accurate analysis for LEO missions. Any design of a CubeSat can be quickly evaluated in ESATAN-TMS by implementation of a combination of validated and correlated thermal sub-models in the CubeSat frame model. Over time a library of validated thermal sub-models will be created in ESATAN-TMS, allowing for fast and accurate orbital analysis, which results in improved thermal designs of CubeSats.

1 Brouwer, H., de Groot, Z., van Gerner, H.J., Guo, J., “Solving the Thermal Challenge in Power-Dense CubeSats with Water Heat Pipes”, Proceedings of the 31st Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, 2017. 2 van Es, J., van Gerner, H.J., van Benthem, R.C., Lapensée, S., Schwaller, D., “Component Developments in Europe for Mechanically Pumped Loop Systems (MPLs) for Cooling Applications in Space”, 46th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Conference Proceedings, ICES-2016-196."


Arne K. te Nijenhuis, Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR), NL
Hugo S. B. Brouwer, Innovative Solutions In Space (ISIS), NL
Martin Jonsson, Innovative Solutions In Space (ISIS), NL
Roel C. van Benthem, Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR), NL
Bert-Johan Vollmuller, Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR), NL
Edwin A. Bloem, Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR), NL
ICES107: Thermal Design of Microsatellites, Nanosatellites, and Picosatellites
The proceedings for the 2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems were published from July 31, 2020. The technical papers were not presented in person due to the inability to hold the event as scheduled in Lisbon, Portugal because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.


Modular thermal control, CubeSats, CubeSat Thermal Analyses, ESATAN Thermal Modelling Suite (ESATAN-TMS), Innovative Solutions In Space (ISIS), Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR)