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Centrifuge Testbed

Centrifuge Testbed

Centrifuge Disturbance Analyzer

Centrifuge Disturbance Analyzer
(click on image for larger view)

ISS Artificial Gravity Centrifuge Module (vertical module)

ISS Artificial Gravity Centrifuge Module
(vertical module)

Schematic of Centrifuge Accommodation Module

Schematic of Centrifuge Accommodation Module
(click on image for larger view)

OBJECTIVES:
(1) Real-time balancing of the International Space Station (ISS) artificial gravity centrifuge, (2) minimize motion disturbances to the ISS due to centrifuge operation, and (3) minimize motion disturbances to the centrifuge due to ISS operational activities.

Centrifuge balancing methods that require averaging imbalance measurements over many rotation cycles before an accurate estimate of the imbalance and its location can be determined are unacceptable. These non real-time methods leave the vibration disturbances unabated during the estimation cycle, which affect the quality of the artificial gravity and may perturb the microgravity environment of the International Space Station. Soft computing technologies provide an alternative approach with attractive features such as on-line learning to accurately determine and track changes in centrifuge mass property, dynamic sensor noise cancellation to improve signal to noise ratio in the imbalance measurements, and real-time information processing methods to filter out the effects of motion disturbance from the ISS in determining counterweight requirements. The latter is important to insure that the counterweight requirements compensate for centrifuge rotor imbalance only.

BACKGROUND

A large diameter centrifuge onboard the ISS will be used by scientists to conduct artificial gravity research on biological specimens. It is essential that the centrifuge be well-balanced at all times to provide smooth operation and to generate an accurate artificial gravity environment for the biological specimens. Moreover, it is essential to minimize motion disturbances transmitted between the centrifuge and the ISS in order to preserve the microgravity environment of space station and to maintain the quality of the artificial gravity environment generated by the centrifuge. We have developed a centrifuge testbed equipped with motorized weights to simulate dynamic imbalance onboard the centrifuge rotor caused by animal movements. We are developing innovative methods and cutting edge software to provide accurate real time dynamic imbalance identification and determination of counterbalancing requirements.

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