From Satellite Thermal Control for Systems Engineers

VI Heaters and Heater Control

Heaters are resistor elements that generate heat ( I 2 R dissipation) when an electric current passes through them. They have been a standard fixture in satellite thermal systems since the early days of the space program, and it is not unusual that experimenters and subsystem engineers supply them as integral elements of their equipment. Their main function is to maintain components' temperatures above critical values, but they are also used to warm up dormant electronics prior to activation, to control temperature differences for enhanced dimensional stability, and as dissipators of excess satellite power.

Patch heaters are the kind used most often. They consist of etched foil (electrical resistance elements, such as Nichrome) bonded within two thin sheets of a flexible insulator (75-125 ?m Kapton is common), which can be made into various shapes and sizes, including long narrow strips. A typical patch is shown in Fig. 6.46. The wiring is often two or more independent elements for redundancy or varied heating levels. Standard installations use film adhesives to bond the heater on the intended surface, and sometimes clamps or screws are added to secure the corners against lifting.

Figure 6.46: Satellite heaters with two independent elements.

Shunt heaters, in the shape of cylindrical cartridges of wound resistors encased within metallic housings (usually about 0.5-cm diameter and various lengths), are sometimes used in regions of high temperatures, where adhesive bonds are not reliable. The cartridge (on right in Fig. 6.46) is normally potted...

Products & Services
Cast-In Heaters
Cast-in heaters are made-to-order tubular or wire heaters cast into a part that is designed to be an integral component of a larger piece of equipment.
Electric Heaters
Electric heaters generate heat by passing an electric current through a high-resistance material.
Flexible Heaters
Flexible heaters are devices that can be molded to the shape of a heated object.
Space Heaters
Space heaters and room heaters are designed for use in confined areas or spaces. They do not emit hazardous pollutants or noxious fumes, and are generally portable.
Drum Heaters
Drum heaters are used to heat containers of viscous materials. They can be wrapped around or placed inside containers that hold substances such as wax or grease.

Topics of Interest

References Gilchrist, W. H., "GSFC Procedures for Layout and Cleaning of Thermal Blankets," NASA Document 905-G-407, 1977. NASA-CR-72605; also Lockheed Missile & Space Co. Rep. LMSC-A903316, 1971.

D. G. Gilmore, The Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, California. J. C. Lyra, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California. J. W. Stultz, Jet Propulsion...

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