Spacecraft Attitude, Determination, & Control Systems

Spacecraft attitude, determination, and control systems (ADCS) provide an estimate of spacecraft orientation and maintain the desired pointing. Attitude determination sensors and algorithms present a complex data fusion and processing challenge for spacecraft. In addition, attitude control algorithms and actuators are difficult to test on the ground. SDL has developed a broad range of ADCS solutions for spacecraft missions of varying scale and concepts of operations.


  • Spacecraft attitude determination
    • On-orbit processing
    • Ground post-processing (simple spacecraft)
    • Deterministic attitude estimation (TRIAD, QUEST)
    • Recursive filtering (least-squares, Kalman)
    • IMU, sun sensor, magnetometer, star tracker, horizon sensor, guide stars, fiducial tracking
    • Rendezvous and proximity ops
  • Spacecraft attitude control
    • CMG, momentum wheels, reaction wheels, torque coils, thrusters
    • Gravity-gradient, spin stabilized, dual-spin stabilized, three-axis stabilized, momentum-biased, flexible body, and slosh control



Dynamic Ionosphere Cubesat Experiment

Twin CubeSats mapped the geomagnetic Storm Enhanced Density (SED) plasma bulge and plume formations in Earth’s ionosphere.


HyperAngular Rainbow Polarimeter

The HARP instrument is a wide field-of-view hyperangular imaging polarimeter designed to characterize aerosol and cloud properties.


Auroral Spatial Structures Probe

ASSP was designed to measure the spatial and temporal variation of the energy flow in the upper atmosphere in and around the aurora to better understand global temperature changes in the thermosphere.