Modeling Heat-Transfer in Animal Habitats in the Shuttle Orbiter MiddeckA mathematical model has been developed to evaluate the heat transfer characteristics of an Animal Enclosure Module (AEM) in the microgravity environment. The AEM is a spaceflight habitat that provides life support for up to six rodents in the Space Shuttle Middeck. Currently, temperatures within the AEM are recorded in real time using a solid state data recorder; however, the data are only available for analysis post-flight. This temperature information is useful for characterizing the thermal environment of the AEM for researchers, but is unavailable during flight operations. Because animal health in microgravity is directly linked to the thermal environment, the ability to predict internal AEM temperatures is extremely useful to life science researchers. NASA flight crews typically carry hand-held temperature measurement devices which allow them to provide ground researchers with near real time readings of AEM inlet temperature; however, higher priority operations limit the frequency at which these measurements can be made and subsequently downlinked. The mathematical model developed allows users to predict internal cage volume temperatures based on knowledge of the ambient air temperature entering the AEM air intake ports. Additionally, an average convective heat transfer coefficient for the AEM has been determined to provide engineers with the requisite information to facilitate future design improvements and product upgrades. The model has been validated using empirical data from a series of three Space Shuttle missions.
Eodice, Michael T. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)