18-20 October 2022
Europe/Amsterdam timezone

Cubesat Data Processing Unit (DPU) thermal management - from concept to testing phase.

19 Oct 2022, 11:30


thermal technologies and methodologies related to small satellites and CubeSats Cube Sats


Artur Jurkowski Marcin Wójcik


Intuition-1 is the cubesat mission that start is planned for 2023. The 6U satellite is designed to observe Earth by using the self-designed hyperspectral instrument. The gathered data is going to be processed on the low earth orbit by on-board Data Processing Unit (DPU). The data processing is utilizing the neural networks in the space environment as a standard operational mode. This process is computationally expensive and hence thermally demanding. The size of DPU is not bigger than 1U and the expected maximum power dissipation is 15 W. Due to that fact, the thermal control of the electronic device must cope with the high-power density.

In the study, we present the development and verification process of the thermal control system designed for DPU. The main design challenge was to create the safe and reliable heat path from the main electronic power sources to external radiator making the system thermally independent from the spacecraft structure as much as possible. For fulfilling these goals, the detailed numerical model of the DPU was developed in ESATAN-TMS with particular focus on modelling the PCBs and the thermal resistances of electronic components. The verification of the DPU included the Thermal Balance Test performed in thermal-vacuum chamber (TVAC) preceded by thermal cycles in climatic chamber. Its purpose was to verify the operation of the thermal control system in the simulated orbital environment. The results confirm the proper thermal design of TCS, but also show the unintentional behavior and ways of managing it. The obtained data from tests was used for correlating the thermal numerical model in a range of mission relevant scenarios to confirm feasibility of the space mission plan.

The presentation of this topic will be first time show to the public and it sums up the development process of DPU with emphasis on the thermal control system. It describes the TCS design, its numerical equivalent and the verification process, together with issues and lesson learnt on each process stage. Facing such thermal challenges for such electronic boxes can be of interest to the engineering community.

Primary authors


Kamil Lysek (KP Labs)

Presentation Materials