Large space structures are capable of large thermal deformations in the space environment. A case of large-scale thermal deformation was observed in the analysis of the Near Earth Asteroid Scout solar sail, with predicted tip displacements of more than one meter in seven-meter booms. Experimental data supports the broad conclusions of the analysis, but shows poor agreement on the details of the thermal deformation. Prediction that is precise enough to drive engineering decisions will require coupled thermal-stress analysis with features that are not found in current multiphysics codes.
This paper describes a simple method for stepwise coupling between commercial nonlinear stress analysis software and radiative thermal analysis software. Results are presented for a round stainless steel tube, which is a common case in existing literature.