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Temperature of the surface of a satellite?

  1. Oct 27, 2007 #1
    Anybody has an idea about that?

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2007 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Are you asking what the temperature is? It depends on a lot of factors and there is no one answer.
  4. Oct 27, 2007 #3
    Thanks for your answering.
    May I thing of an estimate. Could it be as cold as the Moon surface? No atmosphere, the same distance to the Sun..
  5. Oct 28, 2007 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, it could be as cold as the moon's surface -- or as hot as the moon's surface.
  6. Oct 28, 2007 #5


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    It's complicated depending on heat generation and transfer from the satellite.

    The surface facing the sun can get quite hot, while the surface away from the sun can get quite cold.

    Reflectivity and emissivity are two key factors affecting radiative energy transport.
  7. Oct 28, 2007 #6
    I'm just a college freshman, but if you think about it, there are so many factors that can affect this. It depends on how much heat the material of the satellite's surface absorbs and reflects. Also, it depends whether it is facing the sun with or without the obstruction of another satellite or heavenly body. There is really no way to "calculate" this; the only way to do it is to use a temp sensor on the satellite itself. Good question, though, it got me awake and thinking this morning.
  8. Jun 11, 2008 #7
    Knowing the materials used to cover the satellite helps, also its distance fom the sun and its proximity to the earth.
    Its a classic Stephan Boltzmann thingy - Joe Satrianni has got the idea.
    Reflectivity and Emissivity. - Nicely done Joe
  9. Jun 25, 2008 #8
    hey pixel,

    i covered this stuff in a final year mechanical and space engineering degree and there is an equation that exists to work it out, however finding that equation is quite difficult. i have it buried somewhere in my old notes somewhere and if i can be bothered finding it when i get home i'll let you know.

    a quick answers is that it isn't cold at all, it depends on several factors. I will try to list them;

    - the emissivity and reflectivity of the satellite material
    - the orientation of the satelite to the sun which will determine the surface area exposed to the suns radiation
    - internal heat generation of the satelite itself e.g. batteries, fuel cells, solar panels etc.
    - distance from the sun
    - there are a few constants chucked in there aswell :S

    i will try and remember to find the equation when i get home... you have me intrigued again :P
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