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Open AccessArticle

A Magnetometer-Only Attitude Determination Strategy for Small Satellites: Design of the Algorithm and Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing

School of Aerospace Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome, 00138 Rome, Italy
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Aerospace 2020, 7(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace7010003
Received: 30 September 2019 / Revised: 21 December 2019 / Accepted: 2 January 2020 / Published: 5 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spacecraft Attitude Determination and Control)
Attitude determination represents a fundamental task for spacecrafts. Achieving this task on small satellites, and nanosatellites, in particular, is further challenging, because the limited power and computational resources available o-board, together with the low development budget, set strict constraints on the selection of the sensors and the complexity of the algorithms. Attitude determination is obtained only from the measurements of a three-axis magnetometer and a model of the Geomagnetic field, stored on the on-board computer. First, the angular rates are estimated and processed using a second-order low-pass Butterworth filter, then they are used as an input, along with Geomagnetic field data, to estimate the attitude matrix using an unsymmetrical TRIAD. The computational efficiency is enhanced by arranging complex matrix operations into a form of the Faddeev algorithm, which is implemented using systolic array architecture on the FPGA core of a CubeSat on-board computer. The performance and the robustness of the algorithm are evaluated by means of numerical analyses in MATLAB Simulink, showing pointing and angular rate accuracy below 10° and 0.2°/s. The algorithm implemented on FPGA is verified by Hardware-in-the-loop simulation, confirming the results from numerical analyses and efficiency.
Keywords: magnetometer-only; attitude determination; CubeSat; Faddeev algorithm; systolic array; HiL magnetometer-only; attitude determination; CubeSat; Faddeev algorithm; systolic array; HiL
MDPI and ACS Style

Carletta, S.; Teofilatto, P.; Farissi, M.S. A Magnetometer-Only Attitude Determination Strategy for Small Satellites: Design of the Algorithm and Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing. Aerospace 2020, 7, 3.

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