Sun Sensors

A sun sensor determines a spacecraft’s orientation with respect to the sun. 

The front surface of the NewSpace Systems (NSS) NFSS-411 sensor is a synthetic sapphire window with a reflective metal coating beneath. Slits are etched in the metal and sunlight passes through them and through an optical filter onto a sensor. The charge on the photo-sensors are read by the micro-controller which processes the image and computes the sun vector. The vector and other telemetry is returned to the spacecraft through the serial interface. 

The NCSS-SA05 is base around a PSD analogue sensor. Each sensor comes with a specific calibration equation for maximum accuracy. The unit can be powered from unregulated DC power from the spacecraft.


• Ultra small size and low mass
• Low power
• Simple to interface
• Wide field of view
• NFSS-411: Digital architecture
• NCSS-SA05: PSD architecture
• NFSS-411: Calibration embedded
• NCSS-SA05: Simple analogue interface


• Accurate determination of sun-angle
• Can be used in conjunction with a magnetometer for simple attitude control
• Can be used as safe-mode sensors on gyro or star-mapper controlled systems
• NFSS-411: Four sensors can achieve full sky coverage
• NCSS-SA05: Six sensors can achieve full sky coverage


The NFSS-411 was first flown in 2007. Since then, it has been used on a number of constellations with a total of over 100 delivered.

The NCSS-SA05 has also been delivered, more than one hundred units, to a multitude of international satellite programmes since 2013.