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Robotic system to test nano-satellites

Posted on 05 Oct 2018 and read 1569 times
Robotic system to test nano-satellitesArgotec (an Italian aerospace engineering company) and Comau (a manufacturer of advanced industrial automation products and systems) recently presented ATENA, a system developed for testing and validating the functionality of nano-satellites.

ATENA (Advanced Testing Emulator for Nano-satellite Arm) has been designed to simplify simulations of satellite performance, which are generally carried out using complex numerical analysis and tests of hardware, software, navigation and control algorithms.

This approach usually gives results that are difficult to interpret.

The system from Argotec and Comau comprises a nano-satellite (or a specific part of one), an electronic control unit and a Comau (www.comau.com) robot.

The nano-satellite (or part of it), is fastened to the wrist of the robot which, thanks to a closed-loop configuration, recreates the movement of the satellite in orbit during the different phases of a mission.

This system not only tests all the communication protocols of the system but also verifies the interaction between all the components. The robot chosen is the Racer-7-1.4, the fastest in its class.

Argotec (www.argotec.it/online) says ATENA represents a significant breakthrough in the aerospace sector; with this robot system, it is possible to monitor a satellite’s functions and observe its behaviour directly, thereby guaranteeing a more-immediate and simple visualisation of test results, as well as the possibility to carry out flight demonstrations. Moreover, two or more robots can faithfully reproduce in-orbit satellite docking.