Testing and evaluation of a method for locating potentially hazardous sites of eventual microdestruction and detecting marks of ISS RS hull leakage
In 2008, two experiments – BAR and EXPERT – were performed on the Russian segment (ISS RS) during ISS missions 16 and 17 using diagnostic equipment BAR. The experiments were aimed to enhance ISS safety by proposing means and methods of detecting leaks due to many factors including microdestruction of pressurized modules of the vehicle. The BAR experiment was designed to assess the ultraviolet background in 56 potentially dangerous locations identified by RS ISS designers and engineers. The method for locating sites carrying the risk of microdestruction of pressurized structure was verified. The study showed that the rate of microdestruction is highly affected by level of ultrasound vibrations caused by onboard equipment. The ultrasound measurements in 200 RS ISS sites were performed within the BAR experiment. The method consists of looking for surfaces with atmospheric condensate in the areas of increased levels of ultrasound vibrations. Twenty six sites were added to the nomenclature of potentially risky sites to be monitored on the regular basis. Some of these sites were contaminated by fungi and bacteria.
Robonaut 2, or R2, arrived on the International Space Station in February 2011 and is currently undergoing testing in preparation for it to become, initially, an Intra-Vehicular Activity (IVA) tool and then evolve into a system that can perform Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVA). After the completion of a series of system level checks to ensure that the robot traveled well on-board the Space Shuttle Atlantis, ground control personnel will remotely control the robot to perform free space tasks that will help characterize the differences between earth and zero-g control. For approximately one year, the fixed base R2 will perform a variety of experiments using a reconfigurable task board that was launched with the robot. While working side-by-side with human astronauts, Robonaut 2 will actuate switches, use standard tools, and manipulate Space Station interfaces, soft goods and cables. The results of these experiments will demonstrate the wide range of tasks a dexterous humanoid can perform in space and they will help refine the methodologies used to control dexterous robots both in space and here on Earth. After the trial period that will evaluate R2 while on a fixed stanchion in the US Laboratory module, NASA plans to launch climbing legs that when attached to the current on-orbit R2 upper body will give the robot the ability to traverse through the Space Station and start assisting crew with general IVA maintenance activities. Multiple control modes will be evaluated in this extra-ordinary ISS test environment to prepare the robot for use during EVAs. Ground Controllers will remotely supervise the robot as it executes semi-autonomous scripts for climbing through the Space Station and interacting with IVA interfaces. IVA crew will locally supervise the robot using the same scripts and also teleoperate the robot to simulate scenarios with the robot working alone or as an assistant during space walks.
Low atomic oxygen fluence (below 1×10(exp 20) atoms/sq cm) exposure of polymers and paints that have a small ash content and/or inorganic pigment fill does not cause a significant difference in erosion yield compared to unfilled (neat) polymers or paints. However, if the ash and/or inorganic pigment content is increased, the surface population of the inorganic content will begin to occupy a significant fraction of the surface area as the atomic oxygen exposure increases because the ash is not volatile and remains as a loosely attached surface layer. This results in a reduction of the flux of atomic oxygen reacting with the polymer and a reduction in the rate of erosion of the polymer remaining. This paper presents the results of ground laboratory and low Earth orbital (LEO) investigations to evaluate the fluence dependence of atomic oxygen erosion yields of polymers and paints having inorganic fill content.
A circumferentially microgrooved capillary evaporator is here proposed as a reliable alternative for ground and spacecraft thermal control system applications. In this paper, experimental results concerning the start-up and thermal behavior of a capillary evaporator at steady state operation are presented. A capillary pumped loop was developed and tested at ground and microgravity conditions, using deionized water as the working fluid. The capillary evaporator has internally machined circumferential grooves with an average opening of 33 μm opening at 215 μm step into a 19.05 mm (3/4 in) diameter aluminum tube. The corresponding capillary pumping pressure is about 1.5 kPa. In both tests, power inputs up to 10 W (4.55 kW/m2) were successfully applied to the external surface of the evaporator, showing good performance under ground and microgravity conditions. The capillary evaporator as proposed proved to be a reliable alternative for industrial and space applications.
Solid-state lighting for the International Space Station: Tests of visual performance and melatonin regulation
The International Space Station (ISS) uses General Luminaire Assemblies (GLAs) that house fluorescent lamps for illuminating the astronauts' working and living environments. Solid-state light emitting diodes (LEDs) are attractive candidates for replacing the GLAs on the ISS. The advantages of LEDs over conventional fluorescent light sources include lower up-mass, power consumption and heat generation, as well as fewer toxic materials, greater resistance to damage and long lamp life. A prototype Solid-State Lighting Assembly (SSLA) was developed and successfully installed on the ISS. The broad aim of the ongoing work is to test light emitted by prototype SSLAs for supporting astronaut vision and assessing neuroendocrine, circadian, neurobehavioral and sleep effects. Three completed ground-based studies are presented here including experiments on visual performance, color discrimination, and acute plasma melatonin suppression in cohorts of healthy, human subjects under different SSLA light exposure conditions within a high-fidelity replica of the ISS Crew Quarters (CQ). All visual tests were done under indirect daylight at 201 lx, fluorescent room light at 531 lx and 4870 K SSLA light in the CQ at 1266 lx. Visual performance was assessed with numerical verification tests (NVT). NVT data show that there are no significant differences in score (F=0.73, p=0.48) or time (F=0.14, p=0.87) for subjects performing five contrast tests (10%–100%). Color discrimination was assessed with Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue tests (FM-100). The FM-100 data showed no significant differences (F=0.01, p=0.99) in color discrimination for indirect daylight, fluorescent room light and 4870 K SSLA light in the CQ. Plasma melatonin suppression data show that there are significant differences (F=29.61, p<0.0001) across the percent change scores of plasma melatonin for five corneal irradiances, ranging from 0 to 405 μW/cm2 of 4870 K SSLA light in the CQ (0–1270 lx). Risk factors for the health and safety of astronauts include disturbed circadian rhythms and altered sleep–wake patterns. These studies will help determine if SSLA lighting can be used both to support astronaut vision and serve as an in-flight countermeasure for circadian desynchrony, sleep disruption and cognitive performance deficits on the ISS.
To date, the International Space Station (ISS) has been one of the largest objects flown in lower earth orbit (LEO). The ISS utilizes high voltage solar arrays (160V) that are negatively grounded leading to pressurized elements that can float negatively with respect to the plasma. Because laboratory measurements indicate a dielectric breakdown potential difference of 80V, arcing could occur on the ISS structure. To overcome the possibility of arcing and clamp the potential of the structure, two Plasma Contactor Units (PCUs) were designed, built, and flown. Also a limited amount of measurements of the floating potential for the present ISS configuration were made by a Floating Potential Probe (FPP), indicating a minimum potential of –24 Volts at the measurement location. A predictive tool, the ISS Plasma Interaction Model (PIM) has been developed accounting for the solar array electron collection, solar array mast wire and effective conductive area on the structure. The model has been used for predictions of the present ISS configuration. The conductive area has been inferred based on available floating potential measurements. Analysis of FPP and PCU data indicated distribution of the conductive area along the Russian segment of the ISS structure. A significant input to PIM is the plasma environment. The International Reference Ionosphere (IRI 2001) was initially used to obtain plasma temperature and density values. However, IRI provides mean parameters, leading to difficulties in interpretation of on-orbit data, especially at eclipse exit where maximum charging can occur. This limits our predicative capability. Satellite and Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) data of plasma parameters have also been collected. Approximately 130,000 electron temperature (Te) and density (Ne) pairs for typical ISS eclipse exit conditions have been extracted from the reduced Langmuir probe data flown aboard the NASA DE-2 satellite. Additionally, another 18,000 Te and Ne pairs of ISR data from several radar locations around the globe were used to assure consistency of the satellite data. PIM predictions for ISS charging made with this data correlated very well with FPP data, indicating that the general physics of spacecraft charging with high voltage solar arrays have been captured. The predictions also provided the probabilities of occurrences for ISS charging. These probabilities give a numerical measure of the number of times when the ISS will approach or exceed the vehicle plasma hazard conditions for each configuration. In this paper we shall present the interaction mechanisms between the ISS and the surrounding plasma and give an overview of the PIM components. PIM predictions are compared with available data followed by a discussion of the variability of plasma parameters and the conductive area on the ISS. The ISS PIM will be further tested and verified as data from the Floating Potential Measurement Unit become available, and construction of the ISS continues.
Experimental investigation of the modes of operation of uncontrolled attitude motion of the Progress spacecraft
Results of in-flight tests of three modes of uncontrolled attitude motion of the Progress spacecraft are described. These proposed modes of experiments related to microgravity are as follows: (1) triaxial gravitational orientation, (2) gravitational orientation of the rotating satellite, and (3) spin-up in the plane of the orbit around the axis of the maximum moment of inertia. The tests were carried out from May 24 to June 1, 2004 onboard the spacecraft Progress M1-11. The actual motion of this spacecraft with respect to its center of mass, in the above-mentioned modes, was determined by telemetric information about an electric current tapped off from solar batteries. The values of the current obtained during a time interval of several hours were processed jointly using the least squares method by integration of the equations of the spacecraft’s attitude motion. The processing resulted in estimation of the initial conditions of motion and of the parameters of mathematical models used. For the obtained motions the quasi-static component of microaccelerations was computed at a point onboard, where installation of experimental equipment is possible.
Admissible Subspace TRajectory Optimizer (ASTRO) for Autonomous Robot Operations on the Space Station
The paper presents the development of a real-time path-planning optimization approach to controlling the motion of space-based robots. The algorithm is capable of designing a trajectory for a robot to navigate within complex surroundings that include numerous obstacles (generalized shapes) and constraints (geometric and performance limitations). The methodology employs a unique transformation that effectively changes a complex optimization problem into one with a positive definite cost function that enables high convergence rates for complex geometries, enabling its application to real-time operations. The strategy was implemented on the Synchronized Position Hold Engage Reorient Experiment Satellite (SPHERES) test-bed on the International Space Station (ISS), and iterative experimental testing was conducted onboard the ISS during Expedition 17 but the first author.
In 2006 and 2007, the SPHERES testing facility, a series of micro-satellites developed by the MIT Space Systems Laboratory and designed to operate autonomously inside the International Space Station, has been extensively used to demonstrate multiple autonomous docking scenarios. Following the first autonomous docking to a tumbling target ever achieved on-orbit and presented at a conference last year, some off-nominal docking scenarios were attempted. Multiple autonomous docking maneuvers were achieved in the presence of simulated failures. In some situations, the chaser was required to perform a collision avoidance maneuver, which consisted in a simple thrust sequence that brought it on a safe trajectory. A docking maneuver was also attempted with a satellite tumbling such that its docking port swept a plane that does not include the chaser’s initial position, to simulate a servicing satellite docking to an uncontrollable target. One last scenario was an attempt to dock to a target satellite with its docking port sweeping a cone. Two different algorithms were used to perform some of these experiments. The first one involved a traditional glideslope approach, where the chaser is commanded to reduce its approach velocity with the distance-to-go. The second involved a pre-planned trajectory ensuring a passive abort in case a failure is detected. Following the success of these experiments, interesting conclusions were made on the performance of both algorithms, based on the observations during the experiments and the telemetry. This paper will present the results of these experiments, along with a comparison of the performance of both algorithms for the different scenarios attempted.