NASA’s Deep Space Network site in Madrid experienced a crisis when engineers detected cracks in the elevation bearings of a 230-foot parabolic antenna that enables 24/7 monitoring of satellites, space probes, and spacecrafts. These bearings support the 4 million pound weight of the antenna as it tilts up and down. To determine the precise nature of the problem, the antenna's bearings will be lifted and the existing shim pack removed and replaced with load cell transducers, which will convert the measured pressured into an electrical signal output and deliver it to an Opto 22 SNAP PAC System.
Specifically, SNAP-AIMA analog input modules will connect four sets of load cells (one for each set of bearings) to SNAP-PAC-EB2 brains, which will receive accurate load cell readings as the antenna moves across the bearings. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will then be studying the data, formulating theories, and determining why the antenna’s bearings have been cracking.