SALOTTE - Solar Array Drive Mechanism (SADM) – Long Term Testing Chamber

"SALOTTE" is the design name for a test equipment to test components used for solar array drive mechanisms. The ASAP-project aims at the development of such a facility.

Short Description

The key target is the combination of certain test parameters relevant to SADM- components and long test durations (weeks to months). Examples of such components are electrical slip-rings, motors, harmonic drives or position sensors. The test equipment shall make it possible to answer questions from basics on material up to long-term behaviour of components. Image 1 shows the actual design of the test equipment: two vacuum chambers are necessary.

An example for "basics" is the following: to optimise slip-rings or potentiometers, it is necessary to measure friction force and electrical contact resistance in a single contact. This not only requires very special geometries, small loading forces are also needed which cannot be simulated correctly by conventional tribometers

. Having learned from the basics, new components can be manufactured and also tested: SALOTTE will take up whole slip-rings-assemblies, run them with servo or stepper motors, and measure electrical contact resistance of up to 40 channels. Testing under temperatures from -100 up to 300°C can be done.

SALOTTE may also be used for testing harmonic drive gears. Therefore, a second "breaking" motor can be attached to the gear in order to simulate the load of a solar panel. The image 2 shows the mechanical setup for the testing of gears. This new test device will enlarge the service of the “Test house for space materials”. It will be used for testing components for eg BepiColombo.

For this mission even in space high temperatures up to 300°C are expected. Therefore, new concepts on materials and design need to be developed and tested.

Project Partners


Austrian Research Centers (ARC) - Dr. Andreas Merstallinger

International Partners

  • Schleifring AG
  • Harmonic Drive AG

Contact Address

Austrian Research Centers (ARC)
Dr. Andreas Merstallinger
A-2444 Seibersdorf