Measurement Systems Aid NASA in Study of Space Station Solar Array Anomaly

Surface and roundness measurement systems
Taylor Hobson
West Chicago, IL

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama is using the Form Talysurf PGI 1230 Surface Measurement and the Talyrond 295 Roundness/Cylindricity Measurement Systems from Taylor Hobson to perform critical surface analysis of a damaged bearing assembly from the International Space Station (ISS). The results are expected to help NASA experts determine the cause of the damage to the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint (SARJ), a 10-footdiameter ring that allows the station’s solar panel array to rotate and track the Sun.

The Talyrond 295 has a diamond-turned, air-bearing spindle, and offers high radial and axial accuracy and fully automatic operation. The spindle rotates continuously during the centering and leveling process, providing the stability necessary to achieve target eccentricities better than 0.2μm. The Form Talysurf 1230 offers 12.5-mm gauge range with 0.8-nm resolution, providing simultaneous assessment of form, dimension, and texture with a single traverse.

A damaged trundle bearing assembly (TBA), one of 12 aboard the starboard SARG, was removed and returned to Earth aboard the space shuttle. The team conducted extensive examination of the TBA, including dimensional and surface profilometry measurements using the Talyrond 295 and Form Talysurf PGI 1230. Profilometry confirmed that the roller surface geometries of the bearing assemblies were manufactured to original specifications and that the wear profiles corroborate dynamic computer models and high-fidelity traction test rig results.

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