The environmental conditions experienced by orbiting spacecraft are extreme due to the wide temperature range and vacuum conditions. These environmental variations pose a demanding design constraint on the engineers creating the thermal management systems for spacecraft. Most operating satellites today come equipped with radiators to reject heat from onboard electronics into space. A radiator that rejects heat efficiently into the cold vacuum of space, consequently will absorb radiation as heat very readily when exposed to direct sunlight. These are two key situations in which the satellite radiator must successfully operate.
The primary function of the satellite radiator is to reject the heat generated by the electronic components through infrared radiation to space. The heat generated by the electronic components is conducted through the structures of the satellite, then rejected by radiation from the outer surface using a high-emissivity material. The problem occurs when this surface is exposed to direct sunlight; it will readily absorb the Sun’s radiation and transfer it back into the satellite, heating the internal components. The Variable Emissivity Radiator being researched and designed at UCI provides control to lower the outer surface emissivity during sunlight exposure, and increase it again to dissipate internal heat, all while using minimal power and no moving components.
Maximum Number of Students
Junior or Senior engineering students who would like to work on design and application research.
Interdepartmental Senior Design Project offered by the departments of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and Materials Science & Chemical Engineering Departments by Prof. Martha Mecartney, Prof. John LaRue, and Dr. Khalid Rafique.
Email Professor Khalid Rafique at email@example.com or Calvin Belcher at firstname.lastname@example.org