G-Sample is designed for sample collection missions to identify the presence and quantity of sample material gathered by spacecraft equipped with end effectors. The software method uses a maximum-likelihood estimator to identify the collected sample's mass based on onboard force-sensor measurements, thruster firings, and a dynamics model of the spacecraft. This makes sample mass identification a computation rather than a process requiring additional hardware.
Simulation examples of G-Sample are provided for spacecraft model configurations with a sample collection device mounted on the end of an extended boom. In the absence of thrust knowledge errors, the results indicate that G-Sample can identify the amount of collected sample mass to within 10 grams (with 95-percent confidence) by using a force sensor with a noise and quantization floor of 50 micrometers. These results hold even in the presence of realistic parametric uncertainty in actual spacecraft inertia, center-of-mass offset, and first flexibility modes.
Thrust profile knowledge is shown to be a dominant sensitivity for G-Sample, entering in a nearly one-to-one relationship with the final mass estimation error. This means thrust profiles should be well characterized with onboard accelerometers prior to sample collection. An overall sample-mass estimation error budget has been developed to approximate the effect of model uncertainty, sensor noise, data rate, and thrust profile error on the expected estimate of collected sample mass.
This program was written by John Carson of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-44403.
This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Dynamic Method for Identifying Collected Sample Mass
(reference NPO-44403) is currently available for download from the TSP library.
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