An improved configuration for large, thin-walled lenticular booms has been proposed to reduce their susceptibility to buckling. Lenticular booms have been used on spacecraft because they can be flattened and rolled onto drums for compact storage during transport, then deployed by unrolling them from the drums. Lenticular booms could also be useful on Earth in special applications in which there are requirements for lightweight, deployable structures that can withstand small mechanical loads.
Even when large lenticular booms have very thin walls, they can be made fairly resistant to bending, but because the walls are very thin and only slightly curved, they are not highly resistant to buckling. The figure depicts some lenticular booms in traditional and proposed configurations. According to the proposal, the thin, slightly curved wall of a traditional large lenticule would be replaced by a wall comprising multiple smaller lenticules that would have greater curvatures and would therefore resist buckling more strongly.
This work was done by Donald Bickler of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.nasatech.com/tsp under the Mechanics category.