FURI | Spring 2024

Development of a Pendulum-Based Optical-Pickup Force Measurement Device for a Micronewton Thruster

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This research project aims to create a novel device capable of thrust measurement on the micronewton scale which is small enough to operate in a vacuum chamber environment. The research team will accomplish this using a counterbalanced and magnetically damped target pendulum to capture the force of the thrust. The device will implement an Optical Pickup Unit (OPU) to measure the pendulum’s displacement. This device will be applicable in cubesat propulsion technology research as there is no simple way to measure the thrust of the minuscule thrusters that these satellites use.

Student researcher

Riley Joseph Hengel

Aerospace engineering

Hometown: Sartell, Minnesota, United States

Graduation date: Spring 2026