1. And So It Begins


All things require introduction and so we begin with ours,

Most of us are undergraduate students enrolled in a college located on a small coastal town of south India. We have been working on developing the Attitude Determination and Control Sub-System (ADCS) for our university funded nano-satellite.

It’s been the most wonderful experience, filled with all the emotions in any spectrum, having learned and gained a great deal we would like to share from our endeavors.

The main aim of the blog is to help novices to develop an understanding of the Attitude Determination and Control Sub-System as well as help model one if need be.

Explanations pertaining to the same will be as concise and elaborate as possible, we will also explain the system in the required flow with the required amount of detail. Pre-requisite knowledge is kept at a minimum.

And so we begin,

A nano-satellite, for the unacquainted is just a small satellite of low mass and size (For more information, click on this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miniaturized_satellite).

Since the work involved in building a nano-satellite is both widespread and (very) multi-disciplinary, the system has been divided into the following sub-systems (alphabetically listed, or priority wise, depending on your sub-system)

(1) Attitude Determination and Control Sub-system

This sub-system is primarily responsible for providing (either fine or coarse) pointing accuracy. What this means is being able to point the satellite in a certain direction with a certain degree of accuracy.

(2) Communication and Ground Station Sub-system

This sub-system is concerned with the transfer of data from the nano-satellite to the ground station and vice versa.

(3)Electrical Power Sub-system

Since the only source of power in space is solar energy, this sub-system is involved with the harnessing, storing and distribution of power.

(4) On board data handling Sub-system

Mostly anything and everything pertaining to the hardware architecture of the on-board computer comes under the umbrella of this sub-system.

(5) Payload

Payload is the end-goal or the purpose with which the satellite is sent into orbit to begin with.

(6) Structures, Thermals and Mechanical Sub-system

As the name suggest it is to do with the structure of the satellite, and is responsible for protection of the sub-system both during launch and from the space environment generally.

These are the basic sub-systems of our currently in progress nano-satellite, Parikshit (for more information, click on this à http://parikshit.org/). Variations to the above system exist considering no nano-satellites are built with exactly the same purpose. Let us begin with the obvious question,

Why do we need an ADCS sub-system to begin with?

It is both complex to understand and a mouthful to swallow. Well, the ADCS sub-system has been designed to provide both rate and attitude control, this requirement comes from the payload, power and communication sub-systems. The ADCS subsystem can also provide us with the position and velocity of our satellite while in orbit, this is useful for both payload and antenna pointing.

As to the question of how is this established? The answer to that question for now is that suitable hardware works in synchronization with complex algorithm. Both aspects should be made clear with the subsequent posts.

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