CubeSat Attitude Control System

Recent Updates:

The project has been completed! Please check our documents page for our final report and models.

The Project:

Cloud CubeSat Illustration
The Cloud CubeSat
Image courtesy GSFC.

The CubeSat Attitude Control System (ACS) uses a magnetorquing system to rotate the CubeSat so that one face always points at the sun.

This project was given to us by Vanderlei Martins of the University of Maryland - Baltimore County (UMBC) Physics Department and the NASA GSFC Climate and Radiation Branch. This Cloud CubeSat is designed to examine the profiles of clouds. The current method of evaluating the composition of clouds is to fly through them in an airplane, and changing altitude takes quite a bit of time. With a low-orbiting satellite, the entire vertical extent of a cloud may be evaluated at once, allowing the possibility of documenting the progression in structure over time of a single cloud. Another benefit is that images may all be taken at a constant angle, which greatly simplifies the calculations necessary to find cloud composition at particular altitudes. While a CubeSat is too small to be able to fulfill these main requirements, it is a relatively inexpensive proof of concept.

The Cloud CubeSat is to keep one of its faces towards the sun, with its cameras on the opposite face. This will allow efficient power-generation through solar panels, and ensure appropriate lighting for the cloud images. It will accomplish by taking the input of the direction of the sun from the solar sensor and maneuvering the satellite to the desired orientation.