MOPITT Mechanisms 16 Years In-Orbit Operation on TERRAThe 16th anniversary of the launch of NASA's Terra Spacecraft was marked on December 18, 2015, with the Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument being a successful contributor to the NASA EOS flagship. MOPITT has been enabled by a large suite of mechanisms, allowing the instrument to perform long-duration monitoring of atmospheric carbon monoxide, providing global measurements of this important greenhouse gas for 16 years. Mechanisms have been successfully employed for scanning, cooling of detectors, and to optically modulate the gas path length within the instrument by means of pressure and gas cell length variation. The instrument utilizes these devices to perform correlation spectroscopy, enabling measurements with vertical resolution from the nadir view, and has thereby furthered understanding of source and global transport effects of carbon monoxide. Given the design requirement for a 5.25-year lifetime, the stability and performance of the majority of mechanisms have far surpassed design goals. With 16 continuously operating mechanisms in service on MOPITT, including 12 rotating mechanisms and 4 with linear drive elements, the instrument was an ambitious undertaking. The long life requirements combined with demands for cleanliness and optical stability made for difficult design choices including that of the selection of new lubrication processes. Observations and lessons learned with regards to many aspects of the mechanisms and associated monitoring devices are discussed here. Mechanism behaviors are described, including anomalies, long-term drive current/power, fill pressure, vibration and cold-tip temperature trends. The effectiveness of particular lubrication formulations and the screening method implemented is discussed in relation to continuous rotating mechanisms and stepper motors, which have exceeded 15 billon rotations and 2.5 billion steps respectively. Aspects of gas cell hermeticity, optical cleanliness, heater problems and SEU effects on accelerometers are also discussed.
Ames Research Center
Gibson, Andrew S. (Canadian Space Agency Saint Hubert, Quebec, Canada)
Nichitiu, Florian (Toronto Univ. Ontario, Canada)
Caldwell, Dwight (Canadensys Aerospace Corp. Bolton, ON, Canada)