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A robotic approach to fault-tolerant, precision pointing

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3 Author(s)
J. E. McInroy ; Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, USA ; G. W. Neat ; J. F. O'Brien

Future spaceborne optical interferometers and laser satellite communication systems are two space applications that require a precision pointing function in order to meet mission goals. Spaceborne interferometers provide a promising means to discover Earth-like planets in other solar-like systems. The laser communication systems provide a low-power, low-cost, lightweight means of data relay between ground and space and for deep-space communications to interplanetary probes. Both applications share the need to acquire and track a target. The interferometry application requires pointing errors to be submicroradian while the laser communication application requires microradian-level errors. In order to meet the precision pointing requirements found in these applications, a precision pointing strategy has been developed. The strategy employs a hexapod as the pointing platform to reject vibrations from a noisy spacecraft bus over all frequencies: at low frequency using 2- or 3-axis pointing and at high frequency using 6-axis vibration isolation. The benefits include broadband pointing stability without a high-bandwidth pointing sensor or destabilizing excitation of high-frequency structural modes, as well as tolerance to failures. This article outlines this approach to pointing

Published in:

IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine  (Volume:6 ,  Issue: 4 )