Date of Award

12-2015

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering

Department

Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Bogdan Udrea

First Committee Member

Dr. Dae Won Kim

Second Committee Member

Ruben Suarez

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to design, analyze, and fabricate an electroadhesion mechanism with the goal of providing controlled electrostatic adhesion to objects with little known surface finish, of varying curvature, and different materials. The main purpose of the mechanism is that of ensuring a soft docking, controlled in closed loop, for attachment to large pieces of orbital debris. Other envisaged purposes for the mechanism are sample collection and manipulation in free-fall and in-situ analysis of cohesive forces in regolith at small bodies, such as asteroids or comets. Electrostatic finite element analysis was performed on various electroadhesion pad designs in order to compare field intensities. In order to obtain optimum surface adhesion, the use of Macro Fiber Composite (MFC) actuators were embedded on the electroadhesion pad. Fabrication methods involving the use of chemical etching process on copper clad composites were used in order to test the pads and determine the level of adhesion obtained. The design methods, fabrication techniques, and experimental results are presented.

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