How can a satellite the size of a loaf of bread take the heat of operating in the extreme conditions existing in space without overheating? In episode 56, we’re joined by Naia Butler-Craig from the Georgia Institute of Technology to discuss her open access article “An investigation of the system architecture of high power density 3U CubeSats capable of supporting high impulse missions,” which was published in November 2018 in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University‘s open-access McNair Scholars Research Journal.



Websites and other resources

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University video featuring Naia:

Video on how ion thrusters work:


An Investigation of the System Architecture of High Power Density 3U CubeSats Capable of Supporting High Impulse Missions

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Hosts / Producers

Doug Leigh & Ryan Watkins

How to Cite

Leigh, D., Watkins, R., & Butler-Craig, N.. (2019, August 20). Parsing Science – Taking Heat in Space. figshare.


What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers


Butler-Craig: CubeSats are basically nanosatellites. If you think of a huge one-ton satellite, try to condense it to the size of a loaf of bread.

Leigh: This is Parsing Science the unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science as told by the researchers themselves I’m Doug Leigh.

Watkins: And I’m Ryan Watkins. Today, in episode 56 of Parsing Science, we’re joined by Naia Butler-Craig from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She’ll talk with us about her research into the thruster systems aboard miniature satellites known as CubeSats, along with her work protecting the electronics on board from overheating while operating in the extreme conditions that exist in outer space. Here’s Naia Butler-Craig.

Butler-Craig: My name is Naia Butler-Craig, and I am a recent graduate from Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University. I got my degree in aerospace engineering with two minors in computational and applied mathematics. I am currently a GEM fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratories in Los Alamos in New Mexico, doing some computational physics. And in the fall I will be joining Georgia Tech as a PhD student in the aerospace engineering program. And the lab that I was working in is actually called the High Power Electric Propulsion Laboratory, where I will be doing some in-depth study on plasma physics and hall thrusters, and ion thrusters, and anything having to do with ion propulsion.

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