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The Mathematics of Satellite Design - Connecting Radiators

Connecting radiators

Radiators are used to keep the communications part of a satellite at an optimum temperature. This is necessary in order for the equipment to function correctly. Connecting the radiators together adds robustness to the system. In this challenge students investigate the most efficient way of connecting the radiators. A starting point is given for the connection but there are then a lot of choices for students to make. It gives an opportunity to make use of Pythagoras’ theorem in an optimisation problem. This is for age range: 11 to 13.

Mathematical topics used in this challenge:

• Pythagoras’ theorem

• Perimeter

Connecting radiators using different starting points

This challenge looks at connecting radiators across a rectangular surface. Not only must students investigate the optimum solution for a fixed starting point, they must also check what happens when they select different starting points. Whilst this challenge can be used ‘stand-alone’, it may also be used as an extension to ‘Connecting radiators’. This is for age range: 11 to 13. 

Mathematical topics used in this challenge:

• Pythagoras’ theorem

• Perimeter

• Mathematical reasoning

Connecting radiators - Describing line segments

In the challenge ‘Connecting radiators using different starting points’ students investigate the shortest possible route to connect sides of a rectangle. This work is now formalised into presenting a mathematical model for the solutions, drawing on ideas from algebra. This is for age range: 14 to 16.

Mathematical topics used in this challenge:

• Equation of a line through two points

• Finding the coordinates of the point on a line

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