Argotec, an Italian aerospace engineering company, and Comau, jointly present the Advanced Testing Emulator for Nanosatellite Arm (ATENA), a robotic system aimed at testing and validating the functionality of nanosatellites. ATENA simplifies simulations of satellite performance, generally carried out through complex numerical analysis and tests of hardware, software, navigation and control algorithms, which usually return results difficult to interpret.
The system consists of a satellite or part of it, an electronic control unit and a Comau robot. The nanosatellite, or part of it, is fastened to the wrist of the robot which, thanks to a closed loop configuration, recreates the movement of the satellite in orbit, during the different phases of a mission. This solution allows to test all the communication protocols of the system, verifying also the interaction between all the components. The robot chosen is the Racer7 1.4, the fastest in its class, which guarantees reliability and precision in a compact mechanism. This new approach is so realistic and versatile that it can be used from the early design stages of a satellite.
Using the robot, it’s possible to monitor the satellite's functionality and observe its behavior directly. This guarantees a more immediate and simple visualization of the test results, as well as the possibility to carry out flight demos.