Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type





Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Weaver Smith

Second Advisor

Dr. Jack Leifer


Stiff, ultra-lightweight thermal-formed polyimide panels considered in this dissertation are examples of next generation gossamer structures that resolve some of the technology barriers of previous, membrane-dominated gossamer designs while maintaining their low mass and low stowage volume characteristics. The research involved statically and dynamically characterizing and modeling several of these panels to develop validated computer models which can be used to determine the effects of changing manufacturing parameters and scalability. Static characterization showed substantial local nonlinear behavior that was replicated by new physics-based finite element models, and global linear bending behavior that was modeled using classical shell finite elements incorporating effective properties in place of bulk material properties to represent the unique stiffening structure of these panels. Dynamic characterization was performed on individual panels using standard impact hammer and accelerometer testing, enabling successful extraction of several structural natural frequencies and mode shapes. Additionally, the three dimensional time history of the surface of the panels was rendered from video data, and temporal filters were applied to the data to examine the frequency content. These data were also correlated to the shell element numerical models. Overall, the research contributes to the total knowledge base of gossamer technologies, advances stiff panel-based structures toward space qualification, and demonstrates their potential for use in apertures and other spacecraft.

BlackApC.pdf (479 kB)
BlackApD.pdf (1110 kB)
AryMode1.avi (4045 kB)
AryMode2.avi (14917 kB)
AryMode3.avi (11104 kB)
AryMode4.avi (5270 kB)



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