Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has been developing a framework of additional analysis capabilities to aid in the verification, development, and execution of thermal models using the OpenTD Application Programming Interface (API). This paper provides a brief overview of the data structures, properties, methods, and relationships between the objects accessible through the current API and describes some of the algorithms necessary to implement the desired functions at GSFC. Some example code snippets are also provided to aid potential users in the development of their own utilities.

With the release of Thermal Desktop 6.0, users now had the ability to interface with some of the many elements and constructs of a Thermal Desktop model through external applications developed using the TD API (Application Programming Interface). This file allows applications to be developed in the .NET framework and interface to a number of object types within a Thermal Desktop model. The release of 6.1 expands the subset of objects able to be manipulated and now includes the raw geometrical information of surfaces. With the release of 6.1, the API was now referred to as OpenTD.

The Mars Helicopter will be a technology demonstration conducted during the Mars 2020 mission. The primary mission objective is to achieve several 90-second flights and capture visible light images via forward and nadir mounted cameras. These flights could possibly provide reconnaissance data for sampling site selection for other Mars surface missions. The helicopter is powered by a solar array, which stores energy in secondary batteries for flight operations, imaging, communications, and survival heating.

Despite recent advances in computer aided design (CAD) based tools, spacecraft thermal analysis remains outside the realm of finite element method (FEM) based analysis. The primary complaints against FEM often cited are:

Thermal engineering has long been left out of the concurrent engineering environment dominated by CAD (computer aided design) and FEM (finite element method) software.  Current tools attempt to force the thermal design process into an environment primarily created to support structural analysis, which results in inappropriate thermal models. As a result, many thermal engineers either build models “by hand” or use geometric user interfaces that are separate from and have little useful connection, if any, to CAD and FEM systems.