With the technological advancement of small satellites, manufacturers note that they require mechanisms to minimize the impact of the excess heat expended by these systems.
Small satellites are progressively tackling more data ranging from satellite imagery data to observatory data for the earthbound terrestrial sensors and smart devices. The vice president of spaceship development and production for Planet, Chester Gillmore, stated in a SpaceNews virtual interview that Planet is expanding its optical imagery payload memory from 16 gigabytes to 2 terabytes. This move will enable the firm’s satellites to handle its operations efficiently without lagging.
Gillmore adds that this substantial memory expansion is part of the company’s adjustment to meet the industry’s new trend of downscaling electronic components. The resultant challenge with this trend is the overheating of the electronic systems as they try to release heat and cool down.
This thermal management problem may be accounted for as a result of Planet designing its Dove cubesat to be within the spacecraft. Manufacturers that develop theirs on the outside part of the craft also experience this problem.
AAC Clyde Space‘s strategist, Craig Clarke, says that AAC will be focusing on thermal management as the roadmap for technological expansion. He adds that expending such a substantial quantity of heat energy on a small satellite will be tedious. Thus, they are researching the appropriate method that will solve this enigma.
The lead director of Space and Airborne Systems Multi-Domain Architecture Group for L3Harris Technologies, Tim Lynch, articulated that energy-consuming spaceship operations like information exchange can produce high quantities of unneeded heat.
Lynch states that the compact design of the electronic components makes imperatively tedious to expend the heat generated within these systems. Heat containment is the new challenge for such small satellite startup companies.
Satellite manufacturers and their research and development departments are working on a long-term formula to ensure the successful dissipation of this unwanted heat from smallsats. Carbice, an Atalanta smallsat firm, hopes to launch its new miniature carbon fiber thermal containment material aboard their spacecraft.
Cubesat manufacturer Pumpkin, and research analytics company Creare of Hanover, gave out a paper in the conference concerning the thermal management mechanism they have been working on with the US Air Force Research Laboratory. This mechanism entails heat dissipation into space and the heat-entrapment pipes and storage system that facilitates this operation.
Finally, the smallsat industry’s technological trends will ensure its growth and prevalence in the satellite sector. This industry must arm itself to tackle such uprising challenges and others like cybersecurity and sensor technology evolution.