The theoretical background and the numerical modeling results of a ground-based verification activity of a critical space mission phase affected by adhesion issues are presented. Tribological models are first reviewed with an emphasis on the contact forces assessment and their relationship to the geometrical, material, and mechanical properties of the contacting metal bodies. An approach based on a finite element analysis of the contact, accounting for the adhesion forces, is then proposed for studying the contact behavior of smooth surfaces in vacuum. Some solutions aimed at reducing adhesion pull-off forces are discussed. Special emphasis is placed on the role of surface roughness in reducing adhesion. To this purpose, a fractal surface theory is used to estimate interaction forces. The obtained results are applied to discuss the role of adhesion on the release of a test mass under zero gravity as well as to suggest an appropriate detachment procedure that finds a specific application in a scientific space mission.
The Influence of Adhesion and Sub-Newton Pull-Off Forces on the Release of Objects in Outer Space
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Benedetti, M., Bortoluzzi, D., Da Lio, M., and Fontanari, V. (April 26, 2006). "The Influence of Adhesion and Sub-Newton Pull-Off Forces on the Release of Objects in Outer Space." ASME. J. Tribol. October 2006; 128(4): 828–840. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2345407
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