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Summary: ADCS stands for Attitude Determination and Control Systems, which in basic terms is how a satellite orients itself in orbit. For optical and communication systems orientation is essential to being fully functional. Spacecraft control is an important concern and it is what motivates our ADCS group. We look into various types of control such as Spin Stabilization, Gravity Gradient, Three-Axis Control, and Formation flight. To achieve these control modes we utilize technology such as Reaction Wheel Assemblies, Control Moment Gyroscopes, Magnetic Torque Rods, and Thrusters. The control equipment itself is comprised of sensors like GPS, Star Trackers, Limb Sensors, Rate Gyros, and inertial measurement units. Control Systems utilize flight dynamics such as Euler Angles, and Quaternions.




orientation of satellitemust be controlled to support mission requirements 
Angular Momentum momentum of object about a fixed point must be managed through use of attitude control actuators 
Control Moment Gyroscopemulti-axis system of a suspended flywheel for attitude control  used for attitude control of sophisticated satellites 
Detumbleprocess of reducing the rotation of a recently deployed satellite first responsibility of the ADCS system 
Euler Anglesclassical system of describing an attitudedefines angular position of CubeSat 
Gyroscope Sensorsensor used to detect rotation rate of systemused as an input to control systems 
Low Earth Orbit (LEO)typical CubeSat orbit (also orbit for ISS)sets objective height for CubeSat deployment 
Magnetometermeasures the magnetic field  used as an input to control magnetorquers
Magnetorquersolenoid that produces magnetic field used to interact with the Earth's magnetic field to torque satellite
Pointing Accuracydifference between actual attitude and desired attitudeprimary performance criteria for ADCS
Quaternionmore advanced representation of angular positionused for control system computation 
Reaction Wheelsflywheels used to store or dissipate angular momentumneed a minimum of three of CubeSat orientation 
Sun Sensorsensor used to detect angular position of the Sunused as a reference for attitude determination



Learning Opportunities: 

  • machining experience
  • solid modeling
  • circuit design
  • system modeling
  • magnetism
  • controller programming
  • teamwork skills
  • accountability for your work
  • hands-on project experience


Paul CurtinMechanical5control systems modeling
Peter ArtusoMechanical5systems engineering
RJ DiNardiComputer Science3software
Rob MastiMechanical5propulsion
Eli LaramieElectrical2control systems
Justin KonElectrical2space
Jesse FronckowiakMechanical2system dynamics


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