Space Systems Thermal Analysis Software - A User's View 2005-01-3052
The variety of thermal design and analysis software tools available on the international market is wide, with a number of different ‘standards’ for the space industry. The major tools include the ubiquitous SINDA in its many forms, TRASYS, ESATAN, ESARAD, THERMICA, Thermal Desktop, IDEAS-TMG, and the list goes on. Within this landscape, there is very little compatibility from one tool to another, and few translators to allow seamless transfer from one tool to another.
To add to this complexity, equipment subcontractors whose main business is not within the space industry tend to use non-specialist software for their thermal analysis, often doubling up with their structural analysis tools such as Nastran, Ansys, etc.
As a spacecraft systems thermal engineer, this wide variety of tools and model formats can lead to significant time spent translating and coordinating delivered thermal mathematical models to create the overall system level model.
Even having completed this task, the existing packages are not optimised for today's challenging commercial market. As a result, individual companies spend their own money developing tools and capabilities to enhance their internal processes. This solves their internal problems but exacerbates the problem of compatibility with models from other sources.
This paper gives a user's view of this complicated thermal software landscape, the benefits and shortfalls of the main tools and their data exchange capabilities, and presents a user's “wish list” for the next generation of these tools.