Study of the mechanical response of the LTP's test masses due to the action of control heaters in LISA Pathfinder
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The main aim of the LISA Pathfinder (LPF) mission is to place two Test Masses into a very stable drag free environment and make very precise interferometric measurements of displacements between them. In order to achieve such an objective, it is necessary to characterize and model the disturbances that will appear. Amongst the different physical effects that will appear onboard, temperature fluctuations in the Electrode Housing (EH) generate disturbances on the interferometer (IFO) readouts, therefore they must be known and controlled. Consequently, a simulator of the whole LPF is being developed to provide a validation tool for the mission operations tele-commanding chain, as well as for a deeper understanding of the underlying physical processes happening in the LTP (LISA Technology Package), the instrument hosting the Test Masses. In this study, the whole algorithm required to calculate the forces and torques on the Test Masses due to the activation of the different LTP control heaters is detailed. More specifically, transfer functions relating heat input signals to temperature increments on the Test Masses (TMs) in the LTP frequency band, from 1 mHz to 30 mHz, are determined. Following, the EH environment is studied and discretised to calculate the forces and torques that appear through thermal effects (radiometer effect, radiation pressure effect, etc). Finally, the algorithm is implemented and some experiments from the EMP (Experiment Master Plan) are simulated to evaluate the associated dynamical effects on the Test Masses. A complete thermal model of the entire LPF spacecraft plus payload, elaborated and maintained at European Space Technology Centre (ESTEC), was used to obtain temperature distributions in response to heat inputs at prescribed spots (heaters). As a result of this work, a poster was presented at the 8th LISA Symposium that was held in the SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center), California (USA) in June 2010. The proceedings of this Symposium allowed the author to submit a paper to be published in a volume of the Journal of Physics: Conference Series, in 2011.