A sun sensor determines a spacecraft’s orientation with respect to the sun.
A sun sensor determines a spacecraft’s orientation with respect to the sun. The front surface of the NewSpace Systems (NSS) Aquila-DO2 (NFSS-411) sensor is a synthetic sapphire window with a reflective metal coating beneath it. 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 is read by the microcontroller which processes the image and computes the sun vector. The vector and other telemetry are returned to the spacecraft through the serial interface. 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
• Digital architecture (Albedo immune)
• Calibration embedded
• 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
• Four sensors can achieve full sky coverage
The Aquila-DO2 (NFSS-411) is TRL 9 with extensive in-orbit heritage. The NFSS-411 Sun Sensor has demonstrated in-orbit lifetimes of >5 years in LEO and due to its robust nature has become a preferred choice for constellation primes. To date, >400 Aquila-DO2 (NFSS-411) have been delivered globally. Currently, the NSS Sun Sensor product is baselined on 5 constellations.