Analysis of thin curved flexible structures for space applications

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Conference Proceeding
Acoustics 2015 Hunter Valley, 2015
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With the advent of affordable nano-satellite designs (off-the-shelf payloads, standardised launch geometries), increasingly enterprises, governmental agencies and universities have started developing their own space programs to explore the environment of Low Earth Orbits. Thin, flexible and unfolding/deployable structures are common space engineering antenna and solar panel designs owing to their lightweight and ideal packaging characteristics, which are, however, difficult to experimentally validate in a 1-g environment. Further, curvatures or discontinuities to increase functionality without violating prioritised design criteria may lead to system-level trade-offs: stability issues arising from buckling in combination with micro-vibrations which feed back to the satellite's attitude behaviour. It appears that the literature lacks a systematic investigation of these aspects. On-Earth experimental validations (static experiments, model updating) are the starting point for studying the response to static/dynamic loading of thin curved flexible structures such as deployable high frequency antennas. Linear and nonlinear buckling modes owing to varying loadings (aerodynamic drag, solar radiation pressure, residual gravity and magnetic body forces) are found together with a high sensitivity to torsional modes' frequency changes under micro-vibrational forcing.
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