I am developing a software that is capable of simulating the orbit for satellites for my master thesis. The software will not be able to make thermal analysis, but I think it can still help satellite engineers about it.

As far as I know, there is no thermal analysis software for satellites except for ESATAN which is not easy to reach. There are more common and sofwares that do thermal analysis but they lack orbit simulation.

I can create a data output where code estimates incoming heat flux for each surface of the satellite, based on time (and position).

What format should I use so that people who uses software that are capable of making thermal analysis (lets say Solidworks for instance) can use the output?

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    $\begingroup$ This is an important design question but not necessarily an answerable one. As someone who works in the industry, I assure you that if we think a tool is useful, we'll find some way to massage the data so that we can use it. I would design your ICD in a way that seems clean and concise to you, and then document it thoroughly in your thesis. If people want to use it, they'll find a way. $\endgroup$
    – Bear
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ There is thermal analysis software for satellites. Every satellite manufacturer uses something -- the vast majority of them are built and used in-house and never released to the public in any form. $\endgroup$
    – Tristan
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ Something open source? Or are you thinking of a commercial package, or maybe it's too early? @Tristan 's point is certainly correct, and for new, well funded companies the latest engineering simulation packages can probably handle sophisticated satellite designs through built-in flexibility, without customization. There is one group who would definitely need a new product - the ever increasing number of first-time satellite builders and experimenters. An open source project would be great - perhaps as a front end with SfePy for numerical simulation. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 8:52
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    $\begingroup$ SfePy docs, a pdf manual, many examples, development timeline cool video. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 9:00

1 Answer 1


There are some other software package for satellite thermal engineering:

  • esatan

  • thermica

  • thermal desktop

These packages make a lumped parameter analysis of the system. This differs from most mechanical analysis packages that use finite elements.

For your purpose is probably best to make an icd and your own format. Currently a conversion between models is necessary, not only because of the formats, but often the nodal distribution is also different.


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