3457. How Mass Properties Affect Satellite Attitude Control


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Richard Boynton: 3457. How Mass Properties Affect Satellite Attitude Control. 2008.



The success of a satellite mission is highly dependent on the accuracy of the measurement of its mass properties before flight and the proper ballasting of the satellite to bring the mass properties within tight limits. Failure to properly control mass properties can result in the satellite tumbling end over end after launch, or quickly using up its thruster capacity in an attempt to point in the correct direction. Solar panels must continue to point toward the sun as the satellite orbits the earth. Telescopes must point earthward. Satellite attitude control systems generally consist of a closed loop of measurement and correction of the spacecraft’s attitude such that it is constantly driven into its desired nominal orientation, effectively rejecting any disturbances imposed on the satellite, such as variations in the earth’s magnetic field, nonspherical shape of the Earth, lunar and solar perturbations, drag of the residual atmosphere on the solar array, and solar radiation pressure, or by movement of mechanical parts within the satellite. This paper discusses the different means of attitude control: thrusters, momentum wheel, spin stabilization, gravity gradient stabilization, and magnetic field control, with emphasis on the relationship of mass properties to these control methods.


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