SmallSat Thermal Control

As SmallSats take on increasingly complex missions, their power requirements and heat outputs need to be adjusted accordingly. Electric propulsion systems, high-bandwidth communications, and other high-power devices are pushing the limits of what conventional thermal management technologies can handle. This leads to a need for improved thermal management systems that are lightweight, compact, and highly reliable.

The LGST Laboratory is developing a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) fluid loop for SmallSat thermal control. In contrast with Mechanically-Pumped Fluid Loops (MPFL), the MHD approach does not require moving parts to operate, limiting the number of failure modes of the system and simplifying its architecture. The high thermal and electrical conductivity and low vapor pressure of liquid metals lead to lighter hardware and minimal power requirements, ultimately reducing the mass per unit of transferred heat of the system.

Student lead:

Samuel T. Hart, Aaron Robinson


  • Á. Romero-Calvo, “Magnetohydrodynamically Pumped Liquid Metal Loops for Spacecraft Thermal Control”, US Application No. 63/504,558, May 2023.