An integrated modeling tool has been developed to include multi-body dynamics, orbital dynamics, and touch-and-go dynamics for spacecraft covering three types of end- effectors: a sticky pad, a brush-wheel sampler, and a pellet gun.

Several multi-body models of a free-flying spacecraft with a multi-link manipulator driving these end-effectors have been tested with typical contact conditions arising when the manipulator arm is to sample the surface of an asteroidal body. The test data have been infused directly into the dynamics formulation including such information as the mass collected as a function of end-effector longitudinal speed for the brush-wheel and sticky-pad samplers, and the mass collected as a function of projectile speed for the pellet gun sampler. These data represent the realistic behavior of the end effector while in contact with a surface, and represent a low-order model of more complex contact conditions that otherwise would have to be simulated. Numerical results demonstrate the adequacy of these multibody models for spacecraft and manipulator-arm control design.

The work contributes to the development of a touch-and-go testbed for small-body exploration, denoted as the GREX Testbed (GN&C for Rendezvous-based EXploration). The GREX testbed addresses the key issues involved in landing on an asteroidal body or comet; namely, a complex, low-gravity field; partially known terrain properties; possible comet outgassing; dust ejection; and navigating to a safe and scientifically desirable zone.

This program was written by Marco Quadrelli 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-44371.