Practical Limits on Nanosatellite Telescope Pointing: The Impact of Disturbances and Photon Noise
AffiliationDepartment of Astronomy/Steward Observatory, University of Arizona,
attitude sensing and control
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherFrontiers Media S.A.
CitationDouglas, E. S., Tracy, K., & Manchester, Z. (2021). Practical Limits on Nanosatellite Telescope Pointing: The Impact of Disturbances and Photon Noise. Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences.
RightsCopyright © 2021 Douglas, Tracy and Manchester. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).
Collection InformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AbstractAccurate and stable spacecraft pointing is a requirement of many astronomical observations. Pointing particularly challenges nanosatellites because of an unfavorable surface area–to-mass ratio and a proportionally large volume required for even the smallest attitude control systems. This work explores the limitations on astrophysical attitude knowledge and control in a regime unrestricted by actuator precision or actuator-induced disturbances such as jitter. The external disturbances on an archetypal 6U CubeSat are modeled, and the limiting sensing knowledge is calculated from the available stellar flux and grasp of a telescope within the available volume. These inputs are integrated using a model-predictive control scheme. For a simple test case at 1 Hz, with an 85-mm telescope and a single 11th magnitude star, the achievable body pointing is predicted to be 0.39 arcseconds. For a more general limit, integrating available star light, the achievable attitude sensing is approximately 1 milliarcsecond, which leads to a predicted body pointing accuracy of 20 milliarcseconds after application of the control model. These results show significant room for attitude sensing and control systems to improve before astrophysical and environmental limits are reached. © Copyright © 2021 Douglas, Tracy and Manchester.
NoteOpen access journal
VersionFinal published version
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Copyright © 2021 Douglas, Tracy and Manchester. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).