This answer has got me baffled.

In theory, yes. In practice, no. The problem is gimbal lock...

There seems to be some risk of inducing gimbal lock if a spacecraft component of sufficient mass is articulated, and it's range of motion not carefully constrained or otherwise managed.

But I don't understand the concept here. Is it possible to explain, through math, or words, or example, what might happen?

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    $\begingroup$ Not sure what the downvotes are for, that had me confused too. $\endgroup$ – Magic Octopus Urn Sep 21 '18 at 1:00

The answer was in the context of using the robot arm to control spacecraft attitude. because there are many movements that could be made that would result in the am intersecting with itself of the craft, these are not possible.

As a result, there will be many pairs of attiudes it is not possible move between smoothly.

  • $\begingroup$ I've asked a question about gimbal lock, not smoothness. Can you address that specifically? The linked answer begins "In theory, yes. In practice, no. The problem is gimbal lock..." so can you explain how gimbal lock is the problem? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 20 '18 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps you meant to post this answer here instead? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 20 '18 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ no @uhoh, I meant to post it here. when a state of gimbal lock is reached, the system needs to swing though some large attitude changes to get back to a situation where there is full freedom again. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Sep 20 '18 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ but how would gimbal lock have been caused by the robotic arm in the first place? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 21 '18 at 0:04
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    $\begingroup$ The gimbal lock is of the arm based attitude control system @uhoh, because to continue a manoeuvre it would need to pass through itself. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Sep 21 '18 at 6:58

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