A New Apparatus to Evaluate Lubricants for Space Applications - The Spiral Orbit Tribometer (SOT)
Lubricants used in space mechanisms must be thoroughly tested prior to their selection for critical applications. Traditionally, two types of tests have been used: accelerated and full-scale. Accelerated tests are rapid, economical, and provide useful information for gross screening of candidate lubricants. Although full-scale tests are more believable because they mimic actual spacecraft conditions, they are expensive and time consuming. The spiral orbit tribometer compromises between the two extremes. It rapidly determines the rate of tribochemically induced lubricant consumption, which leads to finite test times, under realistic rolling/pivoting conditions that occur in angular contact bearings.