The Effect of Attitude on CubeSat Temperature Evolution in Orbit

  • Aaesha Ahmed Almazrouei

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


A CubeSat is a kind of a standardized miniature satellite invented in 1999 and soon became an essential part of space exploration and research activities worldwide. As any other satellite, for a CubeSat to function properly, it is expected to withstand the extreme thermal cycles while in orbit resulting from the environmental heat fluxes and the eclipse. The CubeSat position, orientation, orbital parameters, and eclipse duration define the amount of heat reaching the satellite surfaces. Therefore, a detailed thermal analysis is considered necessary for a successful CubeSat mission. The main objective of this study was to investigate the effect of attitude on CubeSats temperature evolution. At first, a numerical model was used to calculate the direct solar, albedo, and infrared heat loads acting on each of the CubeSat surfaces. The fluxes were then summed up and incorporated into the heat balance equation for generating the transient solution. To verify the developed tool, for a selected day of interest, the numerically estimated CubeSat temperature profile was compared to actual temperature measurements obtained from MYSAT-1, a 1U CubeSat developed at Khalifa University. The effect of the CubeSat attitude was then incorporated into the tool through defining the roll, pitch, and yaw angles between the CubeSat frame and the orbital frame. Finally, the effect of the spinning rate about each of these angles was investigated. Results showed that as the spin rate increases, the mean temperature increases until a certain value after which increasing the spinning rate will not affect the temperature profile of the satellite. This was particularly noticed for spinning about the yaw and the roll axes. This phenomenon was investigated under both the worst hot and cold case scenarios. It is recommended to consider the effect of the CubeSat spinning in the thermal analysis as it affects the temperature evolutions.
Date of AwardMay 2021
Original languageAmerican English


  • CubeSat thermal analysis
  • Attitude
  • CubeSat temperature
  • spinning
  • nadir
  • One node model.

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