The RMDMES is a tool for modeling the disturbances imparted on spacecraft by spinning reaction wheels. Reaction wheels are usually the largest disturbance source on a precision pointing spacecraft, and can be the dominating source of pointing error. Accurate knowledge of the disturbance environment is critical to accurate prediction of the pointing performance. In the past, it has been difficult to extract an accurate wheel disturbance model since the forcing mechanisms are difficult to model physically, and the forcing amplitudes are filtered by the dynamics of the reaction wheel. RDMES captures the wheel-induced disturbances using a hybrid physical/empirical model that is extracted directly from measured forcing data.

The empirical models capture the tonal forces that occur at harmonics of the spin rate, and the broadband forces that arise from random effects. The empirical forcing functions are filtered by a physical model of the wheel structure that includes spin-rate-dependent moments (gyroscopic terms). The resulting hybrid model creates a highly accurate prediction of wheel-induced forces. It accounts for variation in disturbance frequency, as well as the shifts in structural amplification by the whirl modes, as the spin rate changes. This software provides a point-and-click environment for producing accurate models with minimal user effort. Where conventional approaches may take weeks to produce a model of variable quality, RWDMES can create a demonstrably high accuracy model in two hours.

The software consists of a graphical user interface (GUI) that enables the user to specify all analysis parameters, to evaluate analysis results and to iteratively refine the model. Underlying algorithms automatically extract disturbance harmonics, initialize and tune harmonic models, and initialize and tune broadband noise models. The component steps are described in the RWDMES user’s guide and include: converting time domain data to waterfall PSDs (power spectral densities); converting PSDs to order analysis data; extracting harmonics; initializing and simultaneously tuning a harmonic model and a wheel structural model; initializing and tuning a broadband model; and verifying the harmonic/broadband/structural model against the measurement data.

Functional operation is through a MATLAB GUI that loads test data, performs the various analyses, plots evaluation data for assessment and refinement of analysis parameters, and exports the data to documentation or downstream analysis code. The harmonic models are defined as specified functions of frequency, typically speed-squared. The reaction wheel structural model is realized as mass, damping, and stiffness matrices (typically from a finite element analysis package) with the addition of a gyroscopic forcing matrix. The broadband noise model is realized as a set of speed-dependent filters. The tuning of the combined model is performed using nonlinear least squares techniques.

RWDMES is implemented as a MATLAB toolbox comprising the Fit Manager for performing the model extraction, Data Manager for managing input data and output models, the Gyro Manager for modifying wheel structural models, and the Harmonic Editor for evaluating and tuning harmonic models. This software was validated using data from Goodrich E wheels, and from GSFC Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) wheels. The validation testing proved that RWDMES has the capability to extract accurate disturbance models from flight reaction wheels with minimal user effort.

This work was done by Carl Blaurock of Nightsky Systems, Inc. for Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC15401-1

Software Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2009 issue of Software Tech Briefs Magazine.

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