Matt is writing a computer program to model the heat rejection of a space radiator concept developed by Professor Hyers. To travel further and more quickly in space, future spacecrafts are going to need more powerful propulsion systems. Nuclear-electrics is an obvious choice for a powerful and long-running generation of energy. However, the use of nuclear-electrics creates so much heat that huge radiators would be needed to cool the systems. The radiators would take up an unacceptable portion of the total spacecraft mass, and the radiators’ heat pipes are susceptible to damage from space debris; if the fluid inside the pipes leaks out, the radiator becomes almost useless. Recognizing the need for a new method, Professor Hyers’ concept involves the use of carbon fiber fins on the heat pipes that will reject additional heat via radiation into space.
Matt hopes to use his program to show how much heat can be rejected using the fins and compare those results to a radiator system with no fins. He can then determine if this new design significantly increases the heat rejection of the radiators.