In-Situ Probe Positioning System


Arizona State University (Polytechnic Campus)


Iron Class (2018 – 2019)

Student Team

Cole Brauer, Robotics
Edgar Diaz, Mechanical Engineering Systems
Connor Giam, Robotics
Quinn Seavey, Robotics
Michael Turcu, Electrical Systems Engineering

Scientific & Technical Guidance

Dr. Jason Frieman, NASA Glenn Research Center

Academic Guidance

Dr. Timothy Beatty, Associate Director, ASU Polytechnic School Engineering Program
Dr. Darryl Morrell, Associate Professor, ASU Polytechnic School Engineering Program

Project Description

The Psyche spacecraft will utilize an electric propulsion system composed of a set of Hall effect thrusters (HETs) in order to enable the spacecraft to reach the asteroid and maintain each of its science orbits. On the ground, HETs are testing in large vacuum facilities in order to simulate space conditions. However, since these facilities are in-vacuum, the thruster is not easily accessible for inspection during the test. As such, a system capable of positioning cameras and other diagnostics in-situ is desirable to enable test operators to perform remote inspections of the test hardware. This project was to design a system capable of remotely positioning probes inside vacuum test facilities. The team built and tested a full-scale prototype.

This shows the prototype created for the In-Situ Probe Positioning System, inluding a positioning art and base and a laser depth probe.

In-Situ Probe Positioning System prototype

This work was created in partial fulfillment of Arizona State University Capstone Courses “EGR 401-402”. The work is a result of the Psyche Student Collaborations component of NASA’s Psyche Mission ( “Psyche: A Journey to a Metal World” [Contract number NNM16AA09C] is part of the NASA Discovery Program mission to solar system targets. Trade names and trademarks of ASU and NASA are used in this work for identification only. Their usage does not constitute an official endorsement, either expressed or implied, by Arizona State University or National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of ASU or NASA.