Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bringing the inertia of space to robotics research

Date:
July 18, 2012
Source:
U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
Summary:
To emulate the classical mechanics of physics found in space on full-scale replica spacecraft on Earth, researchers grapple "floating" objects in the lab.

Precision honed to within +/-0.0018 inches tolerance across its surface, the Gravity Offset Table (shown right) will allow scientists to emulate the inertia of space in the laboratory using full-size spacecraft and robotic arms like the Front-End Robotic Enabling Near-Term Demonstration (FREND) arm pictured center.
Credit: Photo by U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Spacecraft Engineering Department's space robotics research facility recently took possession of a one-of-a-kind 75,000 pound Gravity Offset Table (GOT) made from a single slab of solid granite.

To emulate the classical mechanics of physics found in space on full-scale replica spacecraft on Earth requires not only a hefty amount of air to 'float' the object, but a precision, frictionless, large surface area that will allow researchers to replicate the effects of inertia on human-made objects in space.

"We accomplish this by floating models of spacecraft and other resident space objects on air bearings -- similar to the dynamics of an upside-down air hockey table," said Dr. Gregory P. Scott, space robotics scientist. "Based on the inertia of the 'floating' system, a realistic spacecraft response can be measured when testing thrusters, attitude control algorithms, and responses to contact with other objects."

Currently, the grappling, or capture, of spacecraft in orbit is accomplished by specifically engineered pre-configured couplers and mating mechanisms. To capture and service a 'free-flying' orbiting spacecraft that has no conventional coupling mechanism, researchers must first be able to demonstrate minimal rates of error in a cost effective and efficient manner using many spacecraft configurations here on Earth.

Honed by Precision Granite to federal 'AAA' specifications, the 20 feet by 15 feet, 1.5-foot thick single piece of granite is within +/- 0.0018 inches flat across its surface. The precision GOT will allow NRL researchers to precisely simulate the frictionless motion of objects in space and understand the dynamics of docking and servicing satellites on-orbit -- a function of increasing importance as rising launch costs and the addition of new orbiting spacecraft can be offset by the repair or updating of assets already in Earth orbit.

Quarried from the Raymond Granite Quarry, Clovis, Calif., the 450 cubic-foot, 37.5 ton GOT slab is thought to be the largest, single slab, precision granite table in the world with tolerances capable of allowing engineers to simulate service of full-scale satellite spacecraft with significant structural flexibility to a degree of accuracy unmatched by any other space robotics facility.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. "Bringing the inertia of space to robotics research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718103950.htm>.
U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. (2012, July 18). Bringing the inertia of space to robotics research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718103950.htm
U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. "Bringing the inertia of space to robotics research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718103950.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

NASA (Aug. 18, 2014) Europe's ATV-5 delivers new science and the crew tests smart SPHERES. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

NASA (Aug. 15, 2014) Carbon Observatory’s First Data, ATV-5 Delivers Cargo, Cygnus Departs Station and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 14, 2014) The space shuttle replica Independence has been hoisted atop Space Center Houston's shuttle carrier aircraft, creating a monument to the shuttle program which will open to the public next year. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins