Actuator Meets NASA Requirements for Asteroid Sample Return
- Created on Wednesday, 01 January 2014
BEI Kimco Magnetics designed a customized moving magnet voice coil actuator (VCA) to meet the requirements for the flatplate Michelson moving mirror application on the Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRISRex) spacecraft. The OSIRIS-Rex will launch in 2016, rendezvous with the Asteroid Bennu in 2018, and return samples to Earth in 2023. Redundant technology, low-outgassing, and high precision for exact motion control positioning were all essential requirements to the actuator design.
The moving magnet VCA is attached to the moving mirror assembly of the OTES Infrared Spectrometer (a derivative of the Mars Exploration Rover Mini- TES and Mars Global Surveyor TES flight spectrometers). As the spacecraft approaches the asteroid, the spectrometer scans the surface so that the material can be analyzed for different parameters. The mission will be a vital part of NASA’s plans to find, study, capture, and relocate an asteroid for exploration by astronauts.
To meet the requirements for nearzero emissions, BEI Kimco developed the actuator without adhesives or inks. All parts were also manufactured and assembled by mechanical means utilizing clean manufacturing processes, thereby eliminating substances that could cause outgassing. High-energy neodymium iron boron (NeFeB) magnets provided superior operating efficiencies.