Airbus Defence and Space


Thermica engineering tool

THERMICA is an integrated thermal chain for space systems and equipment design.

It uses an optimised Monte-Carlo ray-tracing technique for thermal radiation simulation, specific simplification methods or finite elements methods for conduction and the network approach for solving the temperature map.

Thermica detailed presentation


Features / technical details

The THERMICA T3D modeller allows interactive construction of the thermal model based on a series of analytical shapes. This model is described hierarchically and physical properties are accessed through a material database. The thermal model can also be imported from different supported format and can also be interactively built from a CAD model (step-ap 203) via the new modeller T4star.

A complete orbit generator is available. This generator is completed by cartography and animated plots for checking the spacecraft trajectory. Nominal pointing, attitude laws and kinematics of mobile parts are easily input by means of a menu-driven graphical interface. An orbit view and an animated shadowing module permit to verify the correctness of the input data.

The thermal radiation computation accounts for radiative exchange factors between surfaces, Sun flux and Planet albedo and infra-red fluxes. The Monte-Carlo ray-tracing technique used in the computation is coupled with an accuracy control, in order to guaranty convergence of results and provide the user with error estimation on the results.

The linear conductive couplings between thermal nodes are automatically computed from the geometrical model without constraint upon the meshing; couplings are determined between shapes having common edges or being superimposed. A new conduction module has been added using a method based on finite and volume elements. This new method is very efficient for instruments conduction computation.

For the temperature computation THERMICA helps the user preparing data for the thermal network analyser, which can be THERMISOL, ESATAN or SINDA/G: capacitances, linear and radiative couplings, external heat fluxes and internal dissipations. Moreover the input file structure is automatically generated. Results are automatically generated in the correct format for 2D and 3D displays.

The THERMISOL network analyser is a temperature solver included in THERMICA based on the ESATAN language. This temperature solver includes stationary and transient resolution routines optimized for all problems with accuracy control and automatic time-step features.

A flux budget analysis is available to check the thermal balance on one or a group of thermal nodes. Data are sorted so that the user can easily access the most important fluxes driving node temperatures.


Airbus Defence and Space has been developing THERMICA since 1988. It is now widely spread in the world, and is used in most of the European space projects. Airbus Defence and Space now relies on an experienced team for software distribution, maintenance and hot-line. Training courses are also available.

THERMICA runs on UNIX (HP and SUN/Solaris) and PC (Linux and Windows NT/XP).

Reference customers

ESA, CNES, Alcatel-Alenia-space, SSTL, Sweedish Space Corporation, Galileo Avionica, Kayser Threde, Carlo Gavazzi, Austrian Aerospace…