In-flight testing of the injection of the LISA Pathfinder test mass into a geodesic

Bortoluzzi, D. et al. (2021) In-flight testing of the injection of the LISA Pathfinder test mass into a geodesic. Advances in Space Research, 67(1), pp. 504-520. (doi: 10.1016/j.asr.2020.09.009)

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LISA Pathfinder is a technology demonstrator space mission, aimed at testing key technologies for detecting gravitational waves in space. The mission is the precursor of LISA, the first space gravitational waves observatory, whose launch is scheduled for 2034. The LISA Pathfinder scientific payload includes two gravitational reference sensors (GRSs), each one containing a test mass (TM), which is the sensing body of the experiment. A mission critical task is to set each TM into a pure geodesic motion, i.e. guaranteeing an extremely low acceleration noise in the sub-Hertz frequency bandwidth. The grabbing positioning and release mechanism (GPRM), responsible for the injection of the TM into a geodesic trajectory, was widely tested on ground, with the limitations imposed by the 1-g environment. The experiments showed that the mechanism, working in its nominal conditions, is capable of releasing the TM into free-fall fulfilling the very strict constraint imposed on the TM residual velocity, in order to allow its capture on behalf of the electrostatic actuation. However, the first in-flight releases produced unexpected residual velocity components, for both the TMs. Moreover, all the residual velocity components were greater than maximum value set by the requirements. The main suspect is that unexpected contacts took place between the TM and the surroundings bodies. As a consequence, ad hoc manual release procedures had to be adopted for the few following injections performed during the nominal mission. These procedures still resulted in non compliant TM states which were captured only after impacts. However, such procedures seem not practicable for LISA, both for the limited repeatability of the system and for the unmanageable time lag of the telemetry/telecommand signals (about 4400 s). For this reason, at the end of the mission, the GPRM was deeply tested in-flight, performing a large number of releases, according to different strategies. The tests were carried out in order to understand the unexpected dynamics and limit its effects on the final injection. Some risk mitigation maneuvers have been tested aimed at minimizing the vibration of the system at the release and improving the alignment between the mechanism and the TM. However, no overall optimal release strategy to be implemented in LISA could be found, because the two GPRMs behaved differently.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work has been made possible by the LISA Pathfinder mission, which is part of the space-science programme of the European Space Agency.The French contribution has been supported by the CNES (Accord Specific de projet CNES 1316634/CNRS 103747), the CNRS, the Observatoire de Paris and the University Paris-Diderot.E. Plagnol and H. Inchauspé would also like to acknowledge the financial support of the UnivEarthS Labex program at Sorbonne Paris Cité (ANR-10-LABX-0023 and ANR-11-IDEX-0005-02).The Albert-Einstein-Institut acknowledges the support of the German Space Agency, DLR. The work is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy based on a resolution of the German Bundestag (FKZ 50OQ0501 and FKZ 50OQ1601).The Italian contribution has been supported by Agenzia Spaziale Italiana and Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare.The Spanish contribution has been supported by contracts AYA2010-15709 (MICINN), ESP2013-47637-P, and ESP2015-67234-P (MINECO).M. Nofrarias acknowledges support from Fundacion General CSIC (Programa ComFuturo).F. Rivas acknowledges an FPI contract (MINECO). The Swiss contribution acknowledges the support of the Swiss Space Office (SSO) via the PRODEX Programme of ESA. L. Ferraioli is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.The UK groups wish to acknowledge support from the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA), the University of Glasgow, the University of Birmingham,Imperial College, and the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA). J. I. Thorpe and J. Slutsky acknowledge the support of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ward, Professor Henry and Robertson, Dr David and Perreur-Lloyd, Mr Michael and Killow, Dr Christian
Authors: Bortoluzzi, D., Vignotto, D., Zambotti, A., Armano, M., Audley, H., Baird, J., Binetruy, P., Born, M., Castelli, E., Cavalleri, A., Cesarini, A., Cruise, A.M., Danzmann, K., de Deus Silva, M., Diepholz, I., Dixon, G., Dolesi, R., Ferraioli, L., Ferroni, V., Fitzsimons, E.D., Freschi, M., Gesa, L., Gibert, F., Giardini, D., Giusteri, R., Grimani, C., Grzymisch, J., Harrison, I., Hartig, M.-S., Heinzel, G., Hewitson, M., Hollington, D., Hoyland, D., Hueller, M., Inchauspé, H., Jennrich, O., Jetzer, P., Karnesis, N., Kaune, B., Korsakova, N., Killow, C. J., Lobo, J.A., Liu, L., López-Zaragoza, J.P., Maarschalkerweerd, R., Mance, D., Meshksar, N., Martín, V., Martin-Polo, L., Martino, J., Martin-Porqueras, F., McNamara, P.W., Mendes, J., Mendes, L., Nofrarias, M., Paczkowski, S., Perreur-Lloyd, M., Petiteau, A., Pivato, P., Plagnol, E., Ramos-Castro, J., Reiche, J., Robertson, D. I., Rivas, F., Russano, G., Slutsky, J., Sopuerta, C.F., Sumner, T., Texier, D., Thorpe, J.I., Vetrugno, D., Vitale, S., Wanner, G., Ward, H., Wass, P.J., Weber, W.J., Wissel, L., Wittchen, A., Zweifel, P., and Zanoni, C.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Journal Name:Advances in Space Research
ISSN (Online):1879-1948
Published Online:19 September 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 COSPAR
First Published:First published in Advances in Space Research 67(1): 504-520
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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