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Development and Preliminary Testing of a High Precision Long Stroke Slit Change Mechanism for the SPICE InstrumentIn the frame of ESA's Solar Orbiter scientific mission, Almatech has been selected to design, develop and test the Slit Change Mechanism of the SPICE (SPectral Imaging of the Coronal Environment) instrument. In order to guaranty optical cleanliness level while fulfilling stringent positioning accuracies and repeatability requirements for slit positioning in the optical path of the instrument, a linear guiding system based on a double flexible blade arrangement has been selected. The four different slits to be used for the SPICE instrument resulted in a total stroke of 16.5 mm in this linear slit changer arrangement. The combination of long stroke and high precision positioning requirements has been identified as the main design challenge to be validated through breadboard models testing. This paper presents the development of SPICE's Slit Change Mechanism (SCM) and the two-step validation tests successfully performed on breadboard models of its flexible blade support system. The validation test results have demonstrated the full adequacy of the flexible blade guiding system implemented in SPICE's Slit Change Mechanism in a stand-alone configuration. Further breadboard test results, studying the influence of the compliant connection to the SCM linear actuator on an enhanced flexible guiding system design have shown significant enhancements in the positioning accuracy and repeatability of the selected flexible guiding system. Preliminary evaluation of the linear actuator design, including a detailed tolerance analyses, has shown the suitability of this satellite roller screw based mechanism for the actuation of the tested flexible guiding system and compliant connection. The presented development and preliminary testing of the high-precision long-stroke Slit Change Mechanism for the SPICE Instrument are considered fully successful such that future tests considering the full Slit Change Mechanism can be performed, with the gained confidence, directly on a Qualification Model. The selected linear Slit Change Mechanism design concept, consisting of a flexible guiding system driven by a hermetically sealed linear drive mechanism, is considered validated for the specific application of the SPICE instrument, with great potential for other special applications where contamination and high precision positioning are dominant design drivers.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Paciotti, Gabriel
(Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Switzerland)
Humphries, Martin
(SpaceMech Ltd. Bristol)
Rottmeier, Fabrice
(Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Switzerland)
Blecha, Luc
(Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Switzerland)
Date Acquired
April 2, 2015
Publication Date
May 1, 2014
Publication Information
Publication: The 42nd Aerospace Mechanism Symposium
Subject Category
Mechanical Engineering
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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