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Small satellite attitude estimation and its impact on mission performance
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

To reduce the cost of satellites and take advantage of miniaturizationtechnology, there is an increase in the amount of constructed extremelysmall satellites. Their dimensions are in the order of decimetres andcan often weigh as little as a kilogram. To control the attitude of thesesatellites, which could be required to establish a good radio link, directthe payload in a desired direction or improve power gain from solarpanels, the attitude control system must also be miniaturized. UsingMatlab/Simulink the use of either a permanent magnet or magnetorquershas been simulated and studied as viable attitude control systemsfor 1U and 6U CubeSats. For a typical 1U CubeSat, both methods werefound to improve the radio connection to the ground but no major effecton the power generation were observed. A 6U satellite with deployablesolar arrays must detumble using only battery power, which could onlybe achieved reliably by magnetorquers with increased strength comparedto the ones used for 1U satellites. Once the solar arrays are deployedwe found that none of the tested attitude control systems couldhave any major influence over the satellite. The alternative, to use bodymounted solar panels, were found to give a more flexible satellite, andbetter power performances, even with relatively weak magnetorquers.For future 6U CubeSat missions we recommend that deployable solararrays should only be used if the extra power they generate is criticalfor mission success but then with stronger magnetorquers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 79 p.
Keyword [en]
Attitude, Satellite, CubeSat, Matlab, Simulation
National Category
Physical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-224818OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-224818DiVA: diva2:718347
External cooperation
ÅAC Microtec AB
Educational program
Master Programme in Physics
Available from: 2014-06-24 Created: 2014-05-20 Last updated: 2014-06-24Bibliographically approved

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