NASA EPSCoR KY: Dynamics of Ultra Light Space Structures

Grants and Contracts Details


Ultra-light space structures, such as solar sails and gossamer optics, solve the aerospace challenge of maximizing performance while minimizing weight and will be an important structural concept for NASA missions for decades to come. Design, control, and ultimately performance of ultralight space structures depend on our understanding and ability to predict the motion of these unique systems. The proposal is focussed on verified modeling of dynamic disturbances in preformed ultra-light structures addressing in essence complex nonlinear dynamic behavior. It continues last year's project, focusing on computationally efficient models and performance evaluations. This year, new nonlinear finite element mOdels and analyses are combined with incorporation of state-of-the-art computing. It addresses the NASA Compendium area JPL4.11, Ultra-light Space Structures, and is complimentary to objectives of NASA and DOD. Ultimate objectives include the following: development and verification of increasingly complex mOdels; simulation of dynamic response for design or control; and evaluation of pc-cluster supercomputing approaches for efficient parallel computation. This proposal is for specific key tasks contributing to verified modeling of precision ultra-light space structures. The lead researcher, Dr. Suzanne Weaver Smith, has interacted with NASA researchers in numerous capacities over the last 15 years. The long history of interactions of with NASA provides a unique opportunity for the University of Kentucky and the State of Kentucky to take a leadership role in the development of ultra-light and inflatable spacecraft, especially with the opening of the new UK Mechanical Engineering Building this summer. Dr. John Baker, a young faculty member in Paducah will be an important contributor to the research and provide a geographic impact on Kentucky research, education and industry. Ms. Danniella Muheim of NASA Langley Research Center will serve as the NASA collaborator for this project.
Effective start/end date8/1/021/31/04


  • Western Kentucky University: $24,999.00


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