Determining Spacecraft Reaction Wheel Friction Parameters

Software was developed to characterize the drag in each of the Cassini spacecraft’s Reaction Wheel Assemblies (RWAs) to determine the RWA friction parameters. This tool measures the drag torque of RWAs for not only the high spin rates (>250 RPM), but also the low spin rates (coast-down regions.

A nonlinear model for the drag torque as a function of RWA spin rate is incorporated in order to characterize the low spin rate regime. The tool then uses a nonlinear parameter optimization algorithm based on the Nelder-Mead simplex method to determine the viscous coefficient, the Dahl friction, and the two parameters that account for the low spin-rate behavior.

This program was written by Siamak Sarani of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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