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Materials Characterization

Microdynamics Research Overview

The primary focus of JPL's early microdynamics activities was to support space-flight projects in the measurement and prediction of the sub-micron stability of interface mechanisms such as hinges, latches, and joints. This includes mechanism behavior at cryogenic temperatures and the stability of composite materials. Microdynamics research includes both the effects of interface stability as a source of mechanical disturbance (e.g., "snap, crackle and pop") and as a source of nonlinear response (e.g., microslip and hysteresis).

Microdynamics is of particular concern to future precision space optical systems that require nanometer-level optical stability. The main focus of the activity is on developing the technology needed for future NASA Origins missions such as the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) and the Next Generation Space telescope (NGST). For these missions, the Microdynamics task encompasses all aspects of microdynamic design, analysis, error budget allocation, ground testing, and flight experiments.

The major accomplishments of the early activities included:

  • The conduct of flight experiments on a representative (IPEX-2) nine-bay optical truss to accurately measure the mechanical stability and structural damping properties of a large free-flying space structure.

  • The conduct of materials characterization studies to accurately quantify the dynamic properties of materials and mechanisms in vacuum at temperatures down to cryogenic temperatures.

  • Support to the development of an integrated structural/optical/control/thermal modeling tool called IMOS (Integrated Modeling of Optical Systems), for the accurate prediction of the system-level performance of large optical systems.

  • Extensive publication of research findings including the upcoming release of the Microdynamics Design Guidelines and the Microdynamics Project Implementation Plan to help future precision space programs devise stable optical instruments.

The Microdynamics program also coordinated and supported technology development efforts with other external organizations such as NASA LaRC, University of Colorado at Boulder, TRW, Raytheon, and Foster-Miller, Inc. External collaborators presented their accomplishments at yearly Microdynamics Workshops.

For more information on Microdynamics technology development contact: Dr. Marie Levine.

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