Vibration Analysis in Satellite Development - Ridley Road

Vibration Analysis in Satellite Development

Vibration analysis is a scientific process that helps determine the durability and risk factors of field equipment. Such equipment includes satellites that go to space.

In space, orbiting satellites become exposed to diverse conditions, and they must be able to stand the test of time without failure or malfunction.

Find out all you need to know about vibration analysis and how it relates to the satellite development process.

What is Vibration Analysis?

Vibration Analysis is a process used to monitor the vibration levels and investigate patterns in vibration signals of a machine or system during its regular operation. You will typically perform vibration analysis directly on the vibration signal and its time waveforms.

The pros use vibration analysis to determine the condition and status of a system. The results they get can help them determine the standard operating conditions of a system.

The procedure is essential for early indicators and detecting possible failures in rotary-based systems, motors, and other structures that resonate during normal operations.

Vibrational Analysis Monitoring System

A vibrational analysis monitoring system is a complete set for recording and acquiring vibration signals based on pre-determined parameters. These parameters include recording length, sampling frequency, frequency bandwidths, vibration level, and recording intervals.

These systems will process the vibration recorded and translate the information to intuitive indicators for the maintenance staff or machine operators. A vibrational monitoring system mustn’t affect the normal operations of the structures or machines, you monitor.

Vibrational analysis helps in the Condition Monitoring of Machinery and their essential rotating parts, including:

  • Rotating machines like motors, drive-trains, gearboxes, and fans
  • Shafts, bearings, freewheels, and gears
  • Reciprocate machines like reciprocate compressors, door mechanisms, piston engines, and pumps.

Vibrational Analysis also helps in structural health monitoring of structures like:

  • Pipes
  • Bridges
  • Turbine blades

Vibration Analysis in Satellite Development

One area where vibration analysis has proved beneficial is in developing satellites and ensuring they are durable enough for operations. Let’s examine how vibration analysis can help satellites before and after they launch.

What Vibration Analysis Does in satellites

  1. Prevent satellite damage and failure: Vibrational analysis aims to detect any possible defects or issues the satellite might have. It will help you see any possible point of failure so you can fix it before deploying the satellite to space.
  2. Detect satellite anomalies: Vibration analysis helps detect abnormal satellite vibrations that usually indicate a deeper issue. You can then narrow down several possibilities that led to the abnormalities and fix them before it’s too late.
  3. Ensure worker’s safety: We expect that your satellite will have contact with different people throughout its lifetime. If the material or any part of a satellite is defective, it could pose a risk for workers and put them in harm’s way.
  4. Improve satellite efficiency: A satellite will get exposed to several conditions throughout its lifecycle, so it’s crucial to test it in different situations. Hence, you know what it can withstand. If you don’t carry out vibration analysis on a satellite, it may not perform optimally.

When Do You Use Vibration Analysis for Satellites?

During satellite design

During the design process, you use vibration analysis to test the various components of the satellite to determine if they have any faults before using them. Design is a critical stage of the process, and any material/item you select at this stage is what you will use to make the satellite.

A vital part of this is having sufficient knowledge of its naturally excited vibration frequency. If the structure has any external vibration in the same range as its natural frequency, it can lead to resonance.

During satellite maintenance

During your periodic/scheduled maintenance, it is essential to do vibration analysis testing to find out if there are any components you need to replace. Vibration analysis will reveal the faults in any part of the satellite that hasn’t been as operational as expected.

If you find out that the durability of the satellite is as expected during your vibration testing, you can continue operations without any worries.

Factors to Consider for Vibrational Analysis of Satellites

  1. Natural and resonance Frequencies

You need to know the naturally excited vibration frequency of your satellite. If you notice that the external vibration is getting to the vibration frequency range, it can lead to resonance. Resonance will shorten the lifespan of assets and lead to a dangerous failure of the system.

  1. Material strength

You need to take note of the material strength of your satellite and make sure it is at optimal levels and still capable of handling strain. If the toughness has dwindled, it may be a sign that you need to change the affected parts of the satellite.

  1. Satellite shape

Your satellite’s shape is a factor you must monitor when doing a vibration analysis test. It can expose the areas of your satellite most liable to failure. This is usually different for each satellite, depending on the shape.

  1. Orbiting speeds

It would be best if you analyzed the orbit of any rotating machinery. The rotation rate is a vital factor, and you shouldn’t overlook it in high intense conditions. Over time, this could have adverse effects on the durability of the satellite.

How It Works

You can use vibration analysis on satellites with the help of vibration sensors in a data acquisition system or a vibration analyzer. Vibration sensors are non-contact devices that you attach to your satellites. They must be able to withstand harsh conditions and fast speeds of rotation.

Next, the sensors pass on the information obtained to a data acquisition system where you can view results and make conclusions.

Vibration analyzers are an all-encompassing solution that will take readings of vibration tests from your satellite and generate results. You can link these systems remotely to an analysis software where qualified engineers can crunch the numbers to tell you what they mean.