Attitude Determination and Control (ADCS)

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Optical Communications
Part of the Optical Communications series
Team Goals
Amateur Optical Communication RecordCubeQuest Challenge
OpComms System ISystem IISystem IIISystem IV3 cm Board
Noteworthy Tests
SSI-1E4Test Procedure
Important Concepts
The Field of Optical CommunicationsBeam DivergencePulse Position ModulationScintillationPrecision AimingFogLong Range RFOptical Internet BackhaulSignal-to-Noise Ratio
Field Test Locations
W6YX (also see Amateur Radio) • Skyline Boulevard OverlookProposed Alternate OpComms Test Sites
Dr. Simone D'Amico (Team Advisor)Elizabeth Hillstrom (Co-Lead)Sasha Maldonado (Co-Lead)Dr. Joseph KahnDr. Leo Hollberg
Optical Communications Satellites
FitSat-1LADEEARTEMIS and SPOT-4OICETSOPALSJPL 1U Optical Communications Terminal
Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope NetworkStanford Astronomy ClubStanford Student Observatory
Tactical Cinderblock

An Attitude Determination and Control (ADCS) provides measurements regarding a satellite's orbit and allows the satellite to change its inertial position.

Examples of ADCS Hardware

  • Most ADCS hardware relies on an ability to change the satellite's position relative to the Earth.
    • Reaction wheels: Using small, spinning wheels, reaction wheels allow satellite positioning using the principle of conservation of momentum.
    • Magnetorquer: By creating a magnetic field that interact's with the Earth's own magnetic field, a magnetic torquer produces a force that can rotate a satellite.
    • Control Moment Gyros: Similar to Reaction Wheels, Control Moment Gyros use a gimbal to change the rotation of a spinning flywheel. See for an excellent visual demonstration of CMG technology.
    • Thrusters: Though far more uncommon on small satellites, thrusters remain a dependable and conceptually straightforward method of attitude determination.

ADCS Specifications

  • ADCS Pointing Accuracy
    • ADCS accuracy varies depending on the type and quality of mechanisms and control systems. The CubeSpace hardware popular for use on 2U QB50 satellites has an accuracy of 0.2º to 0.6º. The BlueCanyon XB1 high precision ADCS suggests an accuracy of 0.002º.
  • ADCS Maneuvering Rates