The Vacuum Tribology Model (VTM) of Tribolab

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Abstract
TriboLAB is a tribology instrument that is planned for installation in the EuteF Flight Segment Platform, along with several other European scientific instruments. Eutef will be fixed onto an Express Pallet Adapter (ExPA), which provides standard structural, mechanical, electrical and communications interfaces to the Columbus External Payload Facility of the International Space Station (ISS). As a part of the model philosophy, a vacuum tribological model (VTM) has been developed to generate “on ground” tribological data of selected lubricants. The idea is to compare the results obtained “on ground” with those that will be produced in the space, in order to investigate the different behaviors of same tribological films and to be able to compare the performance of specific lubricants in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) conditions. The VTM is composed of six double experiment cells that perform respectively ball bearing (BB) experiments (with liquid and solid lubrication) and pin-on-disk (PoD) tests of solid lubricants. Thin films of alloyed MoS2 are being tested in the VTM under controlled vacuum conditions. In this work, the two sections of the VTM are described
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10th European Space Mechanisms and Tribology Symposium, Proceedings, ESA Publications Division, San Sebastian, Spain, 2003: pp. 67–70