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For Release: November 7, 1995

Catherine E. Watson
(757) 864-6122

Release No. 95-108

NASA To Study Solar Array Movements During Atlantis/Mir Rendezvous

Researchers from NASA Langley will fly an experiment aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-74) in mid-November that will use video cameras to measure how much solar arrays move in space. The six video cameras of the Photogrammetric Appendage Structural Dynamics Experiment (PASDE), mounted in the payload bay of Atlantis, will videotape movements in a Mir solar array during docking and other planned on-orbit events.

Photogrammetry involves photographing an object with one or more cameras, from two or more locations. Since the object is viewed from many different angles, three-dimensional coordinates can be determined from the two-dimensional measurements on the film. This is done by a process known as optical triangulation. Photogrammetry provides a cheap, accurate and versatile means of measuring the dynamic motions of an object. This technique, used by PASDE, will enable engineers to discern movements as small as 1/10 inch in the tips of the Mir solar arrays.

The structural stability of solar arrays is crucial for the International Space Station and future spacecraft. PASDE data will help engineers understand how solar panels move in space and how to improve future solar panel designs.

A PASDE fact sheet, a color photo of the PASDE cameras being prepared for calibration (L-95-3413) and a color illustration of the PASDE system aboard the space shuttle are available. A Beta tape of the installation of PASDE into the payload bay of Atlantis and an interview with one of the PASDE co-investigators is also available. Phone interviews with the PASDE investigators are available upon request. For additional information please contact the NASA Langley Research Center Office of Public Affairs at (757) 864-6124.

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