Development Testing of a Paraffin-Actuated Heat Switch for Mars Rover Applications
A paraffin-actuated heat switch has been developed for thermal control of the batteries used on the 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers. The heat switch is used to reject heat from the rover battery to a radiator. This paper describes the development test program designed, in part, to measure the thermal conductance of the heat switch in an 8 Torr CO2 environment over the expected operating temperature range of the battery. The switch has a closed conductance of about 0.6 W/°C and an open conductance of 0.019 W/°C. The test program also included measuring the battery temperature profile over a hot case and a cold case Mars diurnal cycle. The test results confirm that the battery will remain well within the upper and lower allowable flight temperatures in both cases.