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Dynamics and Stability of Spinning Membranes


Delapierre, Mélanie (2017) Dynamics and Stability of Spinning Membranes. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9HT2MC8.


Many future space missions require large structures subject to stringent shape accuracy requirements. Spinning membrane-like structures are a cost effective solution for these applications. However, any small deflection of a spinning structure, due to maneuvers or solar radiation pressure, leads to geometrically nonlinear effects on its stability and dynamics. Accurate experiments, simulation tools, and models are required to ensure that buckling and vibrations will not affect mission objectives.

We first focus on the influence of transverse uniform loads on the dynamics and stability of spinning isotropic uniform membranes. A transverse uniform load models the effect of a transverse light beam on flat membranes with small deflections. We present experimental measurements of the angular velocities at which various membranes become wrinkled, and of the wrinkling mode transitions that occur upon spin down. A theoretical formulation to predict the critical angular velocities and critical transverse loads is also presented. The transition between bending dominated and in-plane dominated behavior is identified, and the wrinkling modes are obtained. Next, deflected, non-buckled membranes are further analyzed. Axisymmetric nonlinear oscillations are studied analytically, and a reduced-order model is presented. This model predicts that the deflection of the membrane introduces a hardening behavior at low angular velocities and a softening behavior at high angular velocities. This model is validated through experiments and FEM simulations.

Then, we relax the assumption of uniform membranes loaded by transverse light beams. We present an Abaqus model of foldable membranes and show that for particular types of hinges and at high angular velocities, these structures behave like uniform membranes. Finally, we derive an FEM model for solar radiation pressure for quadrilateral surface elements and 3D problems and present its implementation in Abaqus. We show that this follower load introduces an unsymmetric stiffness matrix and that instabilities known as solarelastic flutter can develop. This new FEM capability enables equilibrium and frequency-based stability analyses for a wide range of spacecraft.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Membrane Wrinkling, Nonlinear Vibration, Solar Radiation Pressure
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Space Engineering
Awards:The Kalam Prize for Aerospace Engineering, 2013
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Pellegrino, Sergio
Thesis Committee:
  • Daraio, Chiara (chair)
  • Kochmann, Dennis M.
  • Meiron, Daniel I.
  • Pellegrino, Sergio
Defense Date:9 May 2017
Non-Caltech Author Email:melanie.delapierre (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Northrop Grumman CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05222017-093718571
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10190
Deposited By: Melanie Delapierre
Deposited On:26 May 2017 20:40
Last Modified:02 Nov 2021 19:18

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