High Performance Thermal Switch for Lunar and Planetary Surface Extreme Environments



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2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems


This paper describes a high performance thermal switch for lunar/planetary extreme environments. This device has been given the name Reverse-Operation DTE Thermal Switch (or ROD-TSW). Two different prototypes were designed, built, and tested. Their basis of operation is the mating/de-mating of parallel flat metal surfaces driven by the differential thermal expansion (DTE) between mid-to-high CTE metal/polymer or metal-only end-pieces and a low CTE, low thermal conductivity (k) metal/polymer support rod. The requirements were to be fully ON above 300 K and fully OFF below 260 K. A series of four tests were carried out to verify/qualify the prototypes. In the first (non-vacuum) test, the thermal switches were cooled with freeze-spray and the non-conductive rod in the OFF thermal path allowed electrical resistance to confirm the 273 K as-designed ON/OFF actuation temperature. In the second (vacuum) test, a calibrated Q-meter was used, which indicated 5 W/K ON, 0.002 W/K OFF conductance (2500:1 ON/OFF ratio). To increase readiness to TRL6, a vibration test with pre/post thermal cycling followed by a 36-day test in a relevant environment were also carried out. This paper describes the development program and on-going related work at JPL.


David Bugby, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), USA
Jose Rivera, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), USA
ICES104: Advances in Thermal Control Technology
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.


Thermal Switch, Conductance, Differential Thermal Expansion, Lunar Surface, Extreme Environments, Switching Ratio