Thermal Control System – team responsible for general heat management in the satellite. In space conditions, heat exchange is very different than on Earth, which usually complicates heat balance in a satellite, resulting in overheating of some components or undercooling during eclipse period. The main reason is a lack of convection – which is common on Earth – limiting drastically heat rejection from insolated satellite, which causes extreme situations and requires thermal engineers team action.
The main task of TCS is to conduct analysis in order to select the most optimal solution for thermal balance management and to maintain uniform temperature gradients, both in time and space using different methods – active and passive. Due to the unpredictable nature of space, a temperature limits and margins had to be set on components in order to assure their survival under harsh conditions. Another task of TCS is to design the system, so the temperatures will stay within safety limits under which components may work as intended.
This is a very important aspect of the design phase, since there are already known cases in history, where the failure of thermal subsystem caused malfunction of the satellite and a complete loss of control of the object.