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Processor Cooling in Space

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a b K Overclocking
March 25, 2010 12:21:33 AM

Hi,
I'm an aspiring electrical engineer and computer scientist in college, and I was daydreaming the other day about a processor in space. At first, I thought it would be really cool to see how fast you could overclock it since space is extremely cold, but then I realized that, since there is no air in space, you couldn't simply put a fan over it and blow nothing onto the processor. How are computer processors cooled in space (and more specifically on satellites?)
a b K Overclocking
March 25, 2010 12:25:26 AM

Heatpipe!

Funny thought, unfortunately space is a vacuum so you need a closed loop.

The cpu's that arnt in the internal atmosphere of the spacecraft are cooled using evaporation with a heat pipe. They use heat pipes because conduction still works in space. Just not convection.

Anyway, your CPU would coldbug before you could overclock it at those temps.
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a b K Overclocking
March 25, 2010 2:05:27 AM

Interesting. never gave it any thought. It really would freeze big time. I know it is cold but how cold is it in outer space?
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a b K Overclocking
March 25, 2010 2:27:34 AM

^3k or about -270.3c.

The only heat is from the residual radiation from the big bang and it is slowly cooling down.
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a b K Overclocking
March 25, 2010 5:43:43 PM

Empty space is around 0k but it has so few particles to actually transfer heat to.

In the case of our solar system. It actually isn't empty at all. There is solar wind . A constant bombardment of radiation and solar particles. But this process would actually add heat. Thats why space probes are wrapped in gold foil because gold is the very best heat reflector. Earth has a magnetic field to avoid solar wind. Earth also has an atmosphere which reflect almost all the heat from solar radiation back into space. Satellites are within earths magnetic field and there is still some amounts of gasses in lower orbit. The moon which has no atmosphere and no magnetic field has a day temperature of 107C. Your processor would hit TJ max before you turn it on.

Another way to transfer heat is physical contact but space has very little matter and would have very little help.

The very last way to lose heat is through radiation. Heat can be radiated in the form of infrared and various other wavelengths. Which is actually surprisingly fast. It is the primary way earth lose heat but earth has an atmosphere which slows down the process. The moon again which has no atmosphere to block it from radiating heat has a night temperature of -157 but the moon doesn't generate heat but a processor will so it probably won't be -157

Space would not be a good place to lose heat. Try liquid nitrogen.
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