||Thermal Analysis for a Re-entry CubeSat Mission
||Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics
||Angel Bernal Menendez Cifuentes
Finite Element Method
Floating Langmuir Probe
A re-entry CubeSat mission is being investigated to measure data in-situ for a better understanding of the lower thermosphere. The mission aims to develop a 3U CubeSat to place in orbit the scientific payloads as well as some new subsystems for testing. By successfully using these new subsystems in outer space, it will be demonstrated that they are capable of performing their tasks under the harsh conditions of the space environment.
In order to ensure the survivability of the CubeSat throughout its expected life spam, it is of outermost interest to determine the range of temperatures at which it will oscillate during the orbital phase, so that either a more robust thermal control can be applied or to use subsystems that can withstand these variations. The present study uses the FEA method to simulate the temperature variations and compares the results with the minimum and maximum operational and survivability temperatures of each individual component expected to be in the CubeSat. The results showed that the current configuration of its thermal protection subsystem and placement of the inner components lie within the safe margins to ensure the mission success.
Since one of the scientific missions of this CubeSat is to measure the electron density and electron temperature within the plasma generated on its re-entry through Earth’s ionosphere, a Floating Langmuir Probe was developed to fit the specific conditions of traveling in a nanosatellite. Variations in flush-mounted and needle-built, double probes and triple probes were evaluated in order to find the most suitable configuration for the mission. Design issues revolved around the harness being connected in one extreme to the probe being placed directly in contact with the plasma and on the other extreme to the highly insulated OBC, carrying through it not only the data signal but also the harsh temperatures from the outside. Due to the small size of the CubeSat, it was not possible to use active cooling systems, and so the design played a very important role. In the end, the triple probe, needle-built, made out of Tungsten was selected for this mission.
List of Tables VI
List of Figures VII
List of Abbreviations IX
List of Symbols XI
Latin letters XI
Greek letters XII
Subscripts - Superscripts XII
Chapter 1 Introduction 1
1.1 Problem Statement 1
1.2 Objectives 1
1.3 Thesis Overview 2
1.4 Literature Study 3
1.4.1 Orbital Phase Thermodynamics 3
1.4.2 Survivability of a CubeSat in Outer Space 7
1.5 Re-entry Aerothermodynamics 8
Chapter 2 RSAT Nanosatellite 10
2.1 RSAT Mission Objectives 10
2.2 RSAT Mission Description 11
2.3 RSAT General Description 14
Chapter 3 Subsystems description 18
3.1 Thermal Protection Subsystem 18
3.2 Main Structure and Solar Panels 21
3.3 Survival Units 25
3.4 General Stacked Subsystems 27
Chapter 4 General Thermal Analysis for RSAT 28
4.1 Finite Element Method 28
4.2 Comparison Between the FEM Results and the Analytical Solution for a 1D problem 32
4.3 Generating the Solar Fluxes on RSAT for Simulation 35
4.4 Heat Dissipated by Components 39
4.5 Pre-analysis 40
4.6 Geometry 42
4.7 Meshing 43
4.8 Model Set-up 47
4.8.1 Time Stepping 47
4.8.2 Initial Conditions and Boundary Conditions 48
4.9 Numerical Solution and Results 49
4.10 Discussion about results 51
Chapter 5 Thermal Analysis for the FLP 53
5.1 Double Probes 55
5.2 Triple Probes 57
5.3 Results for FLP FEA Thermal Simulations 59
Chapter 6 Conclusions 61
6.1 Summary 61
6.2 Future Work 62
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