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Engineering professor to test 'health' of Mir components

Daniel C. Kammer

Daniel C. Kammer (large image)

The U.S. Space Shuttle will be making many more flights to the Russian space station Mir than originally anticipated. Consequently, NASA officials are concerned about how the repeated dockings are affecting the life expectancy of various Mir components, especially the docking mechanism and the interface between the shuttle and the station.

That's where Engineering Physics Associate Professor Daniel C. Kammer comes in. He has been contracted by NASA to conduct a "health identification analysis" using inverse system identification techniques he developed. Kammer will estimate structural responses at discrete points on the Mir station based on measurements taken elsewhere on the station. Simulations for the study will be conducted on a finite element model of the Mir station, and compared to data taken from 25 sensors on the actual station during a docking event.

"The fact that the main structural components of Mir are over-designed would seem to indicate that any substantial change in the vibration characteristics of the station, such as vibration frequencies, could be correctly attributed to changes or damage in module interfaces or the docking mechanism," explains Kammer, who has also done similar tests on automobiles.

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