Mathematical Analysis of Space Radiator Segmenting for Increased Reliability and Reduced Mass 2001-01-2340
Spacecraft for long duration deep space missions will need to be designed to survive micrometeoroid bombardment of their surfaces some of which may actually be punctured. To avoid loss of the entire mission the damage due to such punctures must be limited to small, localized areas. This is especially true for power system radiators, which necessarily feature large surface areas to reject heat at relatively low temperature to the space environment by thermal radiation. It may be intuitively obvious, that if a space radiator is composed of a large number of independently operating segments, such as heat pipes, a random micrometeoroid puncture will result only in the loss of the punctured segment, and not the entire radiator. Due to the redundancy achieved by independently operating segments, the wall thickness and consequently the weight of such segments can be drastically reduced. Probability theory is used to estimate the magnitude of such weight reductions as the number of segments is increased. An analysis of relevant parameter values required for minimum mass segmented radiators is also included.