Flight Results of ESTCube-1 Attitude Determination System

Andris Slavinskis, Hendrik Ehrpais, Henri Kuuste, Indrek Suenter, Jaan Viru, Johan Kuett, Erik Kulu, Mart Noorma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the characterization and in-orbit validation of the ESTCube-1 attitude determination system (ADS). ESTCube-1 is a one-unit CubeSat built by students and launched on May 7, 2013, to a Sun-synchronous, 700-km, polar low Earth orbit. Its primary mission is to centrifugally deploy a tether as a part of the first in-orbit demonstration of electric solar wind sail (i.e., E-sail) technology. The ADS uses magnetometers, gyroscopic sensors, Sun sensors, and an unscented Kalman filter for attitude determination. Here the performance of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) sensors and results from tuning the system is shared; recalibration, software, and Kalman filter adjustments. The system is validated by comparing the attitude determined by the on-board ADS with the attitude determined from on-board camera images. Uncertainty budgets for both attitude determination methods are estimated. The expanded uncertainty of comparison (95% confidence level, k=2) is 1.75° and the maximum difference between attitudes determined by both methods is 1.43°.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4015014
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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