Manned space missions endure a wide range of internal and external heat loads, necessitating advanced thermal control systems to maintain a specified, safe environment. A morphing radiator capable of altering the shape and the configuration of exposed surfaces could significantly increase radiator adaptability.
Shape memory alloys (SMAs) offer qualities that may be well suited for this endeavor; their temperature-dependent phase changes enable passive heat rejection control. In previous efforts, the first-ever morphing radiator prototype was constructed and tested in a thermal vacuum environment, where it successfully demonstrated the morphing behavior and variable heat rejection. Newer prototypes incorporating highly thermally conductive composite materials have more recently been designed, analyzed, and manufactured using SMA materials. The design process is complicated by the contradictory requirements of efficient radiator performance (i.e., stiff, brittle, and thick panels) and reliable morphing performance (i.e., compliant structures). Two separate iterations of the radiator prototypes underwent temperature cycling tests in the Johnson Space Center (JSC) Chamber G and, most recently, the JSC Chamber N. This project was awarded a NASA Tipping Point grant in conjunction with Paragon Space Development Corporation and Boeing Research and Technology. Current research compares the performance of an SMA-actuated morphing radiator to a traditional flat panel radiator in the context of a variable-mass-flow-rate thermal control system in Abaqus.
- Walgren et. al, “Design, experimental demonstration, and validation of a composite morphing space radiator,” Journal of Composite Materials, 2022
- Nevin et. al, “Shape Memory Alloys for Regulating TCS in Space (SMARTS): Validated Multiphysical Modeling and Design Optimization of Morphing Composite Radiators,” 51st International Conference on Environmental Systems, 2022
- Miller et. al, “Shape Memory Alloys for Regulating TCS in Space (SMARTS): System Design and Thermal Vacuum Demonstration,” 51st International Conference on Environmental Systems, 2022
- Walgren et. al, “Towards High Turndown Ratio Shape Memory Alloy-Driven Morphing Radiators,” Proceedings of the ASME 2018 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems, 2018
- Bertagne et. al, “Coupled behavior of shape memory alloy-based morphing spacecraft radiators: experimental assessment and analysis,” Smart Materials and Structures, 2018
- Walgren et. al, “Development and Testing of a Shape Memory Alloy-Driven Composite Morphing Radiator,” Shape Memory and Superelasticity, 2018
- Bertagne et. al, “Testing and analysis of a morphing radiator concept for thermal control of crewed space vehicles,” Applied Thermal Engineering, 2017
- Bertagne et. al, “Overview of Technology Development of Shape Memory Alloy Morphing Radiators for Crewed Space Exploration Vehicles,” 47th International Conference on Environmental Systems, 2017
- Bertagne et. al, “Experimental Characterization of a Composite Morphing Radiator Prototype in a Relevant Thermal Environment,” 25th AIAA/AHS Adaptive Structures Conference, 2017
- Wescott et. al, “Design and Fabrication of a Composite Morphing Radiator Panel Using High Conductivity Fibers,” 25th AIAA/AHS Adaptive Structures Conference, 2017
- Bertagne et. al, “Towards experimental validation of an analysis framework for morphing radiators,” Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems, 2016
- Bertagne et. al, “Experimental Characterization of a Shape Memory Alloy-Based Morphing Radiator,” 24th AIAA/AHS Adaptive Structures Conference, 2016
- Bertagne et. al, “Simulating coupled thermal-mechanical interactions in morphing radiators,” Proceedings Volume 9431, Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems, 2015
- Cognata et. al, “A Morphing Radiator for High-Turndown Thermal Control of Crewed Space Exploration Vehicles,” 23rd AIAA/AHS Adaptive Structures Conference, 2015
- Bertagne et. al, “Analysis of Highly Coupled Thermal-Structural Responses in Morphing Radiative Bodies,” 23rd AIAA/AHS Adaptive Structures Conference, 2015
Other morphing radiator concepts are also being explored, including an annular flow SMA torque tube approach to panel reconfiguration.
- Chong et. al, “Demonstration of a shape memory alloy torque tube-based morphing radiator,” SPIE Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems, 2018
- Lilly, et. al, “Development and Experimental Demonstration of a Shape Memory Alloy-Based Adaptive Two-Phase Radiator for Space Applications,” SMASIS, 2020