Tech Briefs

Optimized Radiator Geometries for Hot Lunar Thermal Environments

The optimum radiator configuration in hot lunar thermal environments is one in which the radiator is parallel to the ground and has no view to the hot lunar surface. However, typical spacecraft configurations have limited real estate available for top-mounted radiators, resulting in a desire to use the spacecraft’s vertically oriented sides. Vertically oriented, flat panel radiators will have a large view factor to the lunar surface, and thus will be subjected to significant incident lunar infrared heat. Consequently, radiator fluid temperatures will need to exceed ≈325 K (assuming standard spacecraft radiator optical properties) in order to provide positive heat rejection at lunar noon. Such temperatures are too high for crewed spacecraft applications in which a heat pump is to be avoided.

A recent study of vertically oriented radiator configurations subjected to lunar noon thermal environments led to the discovery of a novel radiator concept that yielded positive heat rejection at lower fluid temperatures. This radiator configuration, called the Intense Thermal Infrared Reflector (ITIR), has exhibited superior performance to all previously analyzed concepts in terms of heat rejection in the lunar noon thermal environment. A key benefit of ITIR is the absence of louvers or other moving parts and its simple geometry (no parabolic shapes). ITIR consists of a specularly reflective shielding surface and a diffuse radiating surface joined to form a horizontally oriented V-shape (shielding surface on top). The point of intersection of these surfaces is defined by two angles, those which define the tilt of each surface with respect to the local horizontal. The optimum set of these angles is determined on a case-by-case basis. The idea assumes minimal conductive heat transfer between shielding and radiating surfaces, and a practical design would likely stack sets of these surfaces on top of one another to reduce radiator thickness.

This work was done by Dustin Ochoa of Jacobs Engineering (ESCG) for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281)483-3809. MSC-24481-1