How do ISS radiators work
Does the ISS need more heating or cooling?
In general, spacecraft have two problems with temperature:
- Get rid of heat
- Thermal cycling
In space nobody can hear you cry They can't see you sweating either. The equipment on board the station is subject to severe design restrictions in terms of cooling. As you can imagine, internal heat control is difficult without gravity to make hotter air (which is lighter) float higher and release cooler air.
Therefore, they work a lot with fans and heat sink systems.
Getting rid of the heat is the hard part, and as you can see from the size of the various cooling systems, it takes a lot of work.
It is worth noting that the solar panels of the Zarya module (FGB Control Block) had to be folded in the Russian segment so that the ETCS radiators could be extended. That's a pretty big power loss for the Russian segment, almost half of its power generation.
I was wondering if they were considering moving these panels to say the Nauka or Rassvet module later. (Of course, they can't be designed for that, who knows).
Thermal cycling is also a problem as the temperature in orbit fluctuates widely about every 90 minutes. Material issues are a concern of all expansion / contraction companies. The radiators don't help much with this as they focus on getting the heat inside the station out of the station.
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