An attitude determination and control system for small satellites



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



A flexible, robust attitude determination and control (ADC) system is presented for small satellite platforms. Using commercial-off-the-shelf sensors, reaction wheels, and magnetorquers which fit within the 3U CubeSat form factor, the system delivers arc-minute pointing precision. The ADC system includes a multiplicative extended Kalman filter for attitude determination and a slew rate controller that acquires a view of the Sun for navigation purposes. A pointing system is developed that includes a choice of two pointing controllers -- a proportional derivative controller and a nonlinear sliding mode controller. This system can reorient the spacecraft to satisfy a variety of mission objectives, but it does not enforce attitude constraints. A constrained attitude guidance system that can enforce an arbitrary set of attitude constraints is then proposed as an improvement upon the unconstrained pointing system. The momentum stored by the reaction wheels is managed using magnetorquers to prevent wheel saturation. The system was thoroughly tested in realistic software- and hardware-in-the-loop simulations that included environmental disturbances, parameter uncertainty, actuator dynamics, and sensor bias and noise.