Small and ultra-small artificial satellites of the CubeSat type weighing no more than 1.3 kg are becoming more and more popular, in view of the fact that they do not require large expenditures to launch them into orbit. At the same time, thanks to the achievements of modern technologies, the capabilities of these "babies" are constantly increasing. However, they also have a serious drawback: small satellites quickly heat up in the sun and also cool down quickly.
Associate professor at Brigham Young University (USA) Brian Iverson and doctoral student Ridge Maldorf have developed an unusual radiator for small satellites. It is made using origami technology and is a set of V-shaped structures that open or close depending on the temperature.
The opening and closing effect became possible thanks to heat-sensitive materials - alloys capable of retaining shape memory. When the satellite heats up from the sun or working on-board electronics, the radiator will automatically fold inward. The deeper the folds, the more heat will be absorbed.
However, the collected heat must be disposed of. NASA specialist Vivek Dwivedi is currently experimenting with radiator coatings that can radiate heat into space. The most likely "candidate" is vanadium oxide, which begins to transfer heat at a temperature of +68 ° C.
Dvivendi, together with University of Maryland professor Raymond Adomaitis, are trying to improve the efficiency of the material by coating thin films of silver and titanium with vanadium oxide thin films.