Prediction Model for the Temperature of an Object on the Lunar Surface

Photo of Krish Himmatramka, Naveen Penmetcha, Vincent Tyler Students: Krish Himmatramka, Naveen Penmetcha, Vincent Tyler

Sponsor: NASA

Date: Spring 2010

Requirements:
The design team was required to model a 1'x1'x1' cube, six feet above the lunar surface, with variable surface properties. The user provides the cube location, rotation, and surface properties (emissivity and absorptivity) as input. The model must provide the steady-state temperatures of all six cube surfaces at any given location on the bright side of the lunar surface. Additionally, the model must compute the average temperature of the six cube surfaces and create temperature plots to show temperature variation across the location of the moon. The six surfaces of the cube are thermally independent of one another and the bottom face of the cube is always parallel to the lunar surface.

Problem:
The team's project is rooted in the need to detect the temperatures experienced by a given object at various locations on the lunar surface. Knowledge of the expected temperature at a location on the Moon is very important to NASA because it may reduce safety risks and expenses for future missions. By obtaining the temperature at various locations on the lunar surface, NASA can arrange missions to land and operate at a favorable location that minimizes the need for excessive cooling and also decreases safety risk. The design team was asked to determine the steady-state temperature of all six surfaces of a cube, with variable surface properties, at any given location on the bright side of the lunar surface.

Solution:
The team created a temperature prediction model using MATLAB. Since the top surface receives only direct solar flux, the bottom surface receives only lunar emission and reflection, and the side surfaces receive a combination of all three, governing equations for all six surfaces were derived using fundamental radiation theory. By developing a method to determine the proportion of solar irradiation at a given location, the design team used the projected area concept to form these governing equations. The projected area is calculated using trigonometric relations that take into account location on the lunar surface. The result is a temperature predicting model for an object on the lunar surface.

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