UCI Spacecraft Thermal Management Systems

Research Mission: The goal of Spacecraft Thermal Management Systems (STMS) is to be developing several Variable Emissivity Device prototypes, or VEDs, one of which is to be applied as payload to a CubeSat and launched into Low-Earth Orbit. This VED will mitigate thermal loads from the sun and internal satellite electronics and offers a low-cost thermal control solution to absorb or reject heat from spacecraft. We work closely with the UCI CubeSat project to coordinate the VED and satellite operations. 

Team Structure and Divisions: The research team is split into two division: the Mechanical + Aerospace Division and the Chemical + Materials Division. 

The Chemical + Materials Division works to develop the electrochromic VED, which uses an oxidation-reduction reaction with Tungsten trioxide and Nickel oxide ions to induce coloration when voltage is applied. The subteams in this division are:

  • Tungsten Subteam: manufactures the Tungsten thin film deposition procedures and slides
  • Nickel Subteam: manufactures the Nickel thin film deposition procedures and slides
  • Gel-Electrolyte Subteam: develops the gel-electrolyte solution that sandwiches the Tungsten and Nickel film slides in electrochromic cell
  • Spectro-Volt Subteam: establishes testing procedures and assesses the quality of the thin films and gel-electrolyte solution

The Mechanical and Aerospace Division works to develop an electrophoretic VED, where charged particles selectively migrate toward or away from a viewing plate under the application of voltage (similar to a kindle screen). This Division also supports environmental testing and simulations to support VED development. The subteams in this division are:

  • Space Theory Subtem: simulates radiation exposure and thermal flux of the CubeSat using Thermal Desktop
  • E-ink Subteam: manufactures and measure optical and thermal properties of various VED alternatives
  • Thermal Vacuum Chamber Subteam: performs vacuum testing in the vacuum chamber and iterates on the chamber design
  • Heat Flux Subteam: is developing and implementing a cooling system for electronic heat dissipation

Contact Information: 

Project Manager, Space Theory Subteam Lead: Maya Brandy - mbrandy@uci.edu

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