Date of Award

Winter 1-1-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science In Mechanical Engineering Degree


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Sinaki, Maryam Younessi

Second Advisor

Dr. Tushar Borkar

Third Advisor

Dr. Brian Motil


Solar power has been identified as key technology required for extensive exploration of the moon and space. However, solar cell design so far has been based on earth and earth orbit environments, which is vastly different from the lunar surface. The Photovoltaic Investigation on the Lunar Surface (PILS) is a small payload carrying a set of solar cells of the latest technology to the moon in order to test the cells’ feasibility and viability in the lunar environment. The objective of this thesis is to analyze the PILS payload design in its mission environments and optimize the thermal design to ensure that the critical components remain within their survival limits throughout transit and within operational temperature limits during lunar surface operations. The thermal analysis software Thermal Desktop was used to create a thermal model of the PILS payload which was analyzed in transit, three lunar orbits, descent and lunar surface operations in order to optimize the payload’s active and thermal design. This thesis discusses the thermal model in detail which includes the geometry, conduction through the assembly, environmental conditions, and orbital definitions. The thermal model was then analyzed to investigate the temperature change in each component in all environments with the critical electronic components. The active thermal protection, heaters, were optimized for a “0 sink” case where the PILS payload was assumed to be in deep space - with no view to the sun or the moon for solar, albedo or planetshine heating. The passive thermal protection design was optimized for the hottest scenario in this iv mission: lunar noon during surface operations on the moon. Finally, the effects on the PILS payload from landing off-nominally on the lunar surface was also analyzed. The results show that the overall thermal design is successful in keeping all critical components within their operational temperature range throughout the entire mission.