Mechanical Systems (MEMS)
The satellite industry
could experience its biggest revolution since it joined the ranks of commerce,
thanks to some of the smallest machines in existence. Researchers are performing
experiments designed to convince the aerospace industry that microelectromechanical
systems (MEMS) could open the door to low-cost, high-reliability, mass-produced
satellites.MEMS combine conventional semiconductor electronics with beams, gears,
levers, switches, accelerometers, diaphragms, microfluidic thrusters, and heat
controllers, all of them microscopic in size.
"We can do a whole new array
of things with MEMS that cannot be done any other way," said Henry Helvajian,
a senior scientist with Aerospace Corp., a nonprofit aerospace research and development
organization in El Segundo, Calif.
Systems, or MEMS, are integrated micro devices or systems combining electrical
and mechanical components. They are fabricated using integrated circuit (IC) batch
processing techniques and can range in size from micrometers to millimeters. These
systems can sense, control and actuate on the micro scale, and function individually
or in arrays to generate effects on the macro scale.
is an enabling technology and current applications include accelerometers, pressure,
chemical and flow sensors, micro-optics, optical scanners, and fluid pumps. Generally
a satellite consists of battery, internal state sensors, communication systems
and control units. All these can be made of MEMS so that size and cost can be
considerably reduced. Also small satellites can be constructed by stacking wafers
covered with MEMS and electronics components. These satellites are called 'I'
Kg class satellites or Picosats. These satellites having high resistance to radiation
and vibration compared to conventional devices can be mass-produced there by reducing
These can be used for various space applications.Also small satellites
can be constructed by stacking wafers covered with MEMS and electronics components.
These satellites are called 'I' Kg
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