Thermal modelling and performance evaluation of active thermal control techniques for cryogenic instrumentation on micro and nanosatellites



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50th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Traditional spacecraft thermal control systems (TCS) need to be modified to meet thermal requirements imposed by miniaturized high power on-board electronics and payloads for micro and nanosatellites. Accommodation of these high power density payloads and other subsystems within a tightly packed micro and nanosatellite volume increases the level of complexity involved in thermal management. In other words, a satellite�s form factor limits the use of active thermal systems on small satellites. This paper compares a few suitable active thermal control methods such as Mechanically Pumped Fluid Loop systems(MPFL) and Loop Heat Pipes(LHP) for a 27U and 6U satellite configurations considered for cryogenic instrumentation. Single-phase MPFL and two-phase MPFL systems have been extensively studied for the given payload�s thermal requirement and assessed its thermal performance through detailed thermal simulations. Both the satellite configurations are considered to be equipped with a micro-cryocooler, microfluid pump, and fluid circuits to provide localized cooling at various locations in the satellite. The scientific instrument considered for this study requires to be kept at a cryogenic range of temperature and such temperatures can not be achieved using passive control systems. The objective of this research work is to design a thermal control system for a small satellite platform to enable them to house high power electronics and payloads by properly sizing and evaluating different active thermal control techniques.


Shanmugasundaram Selvadurai, Satellite Research Centre, Nanyang Technological University
Amal Chandran, Satellite Research Centre, Nanyang Technological University
David Valentini, Thales Alenia Space
Bret Lamprecht, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado at Boulder
ICES107: Thermal Design of Microsatellites, Nanosatellites, and Picosatellites
The 50th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held virtually on 12 July 2021 through 14 July 2021.


Satellite thermal control, High power satellite payloads, High power instruments, CubeSats, Cryogenic instrumentation, Loop heat pipes, pumped fluid loop, micro-cryocooler, microfluid pump, Active thermal control, Cryogenic temperature, Single-Phase pumped fluid loop system, Two-Phase pumped fluid loop system