Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: cooling in space

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 07/09/2013
How effective would a heatsink be in space? What form would it take to remove heat the fastest. Would increased surface area matter without covection? I was wondering how a nuclear reactor would be cooled on a space craft.
- sam (age 26)
windsor, Ca, USA

The only significant way to get rid of heat in space is via electromagnetic radiation. It is proportional to area, so having a big fin would help. Having the sort of multiple parallel fins that ordinary heat sinks use wouldn't help, since they would just radiate to each other.  In the solar system, it would be important to keep the fin oriented to avoid picking up heat from the sun.

Mike W.

(published on 07/09/2013)

Follow-up on this answer.