Industrializing sun sensor production for satellite constellations – with Solar MEMS

Podcast

Episode 13 of the Space Industry podcast is a discussion with Solar MEMS about scaling up production, supply, and testing of sun sensors in order to meet the demands of large-scale constellations.

In this episode we speak with with Tamara Guerrero, Business Development Manager at Solar MEMS. Solar MEMS is a Spanish sun sensor manufacturer that provides products for the OneWeb constellation, and participates in the satsearch membership program. We discuss:

  • The challenges and opportunities that scaling up production can bring.
  • How Solar MEMS prepared their own testing, qualification, and supply chain management processes to increase throughput.
  • How the company stayed open to new commercial opportunities and ensured product innovation was uninterrupted while serving a major client.
  • Evolution in the sun sensor market, for both in-orbit and terrestrial applications.

About Solar MEMS’ products

The Advanced Coarse Sun Sensor (ACSS) is a 40g, TRL 9 system designed for demanding LEO and GEO missions. It has a ±60 degree field of view, with an accuracy of < 0.5 degree (3-sigma, calibration), and measures the incident angle of sun ray in two orthogonal axes.

Designed for satellite factories with a high level of automation, particularly constellation manufacturing facilities, the ACSS SCOE tests the function of a sun sensor once integrated into a satellite. It can test two ACSS systems simultaneously and is delivered with a certificate of conformance.

The Sun Sensor on a Chip (SSOC) is a two-axis system designed to offer sun-tracking, pointing, and attitude determination in a ±60 degree field of view. It has an accuracy (3-sigma) of < 0.5 degrees, is ITAR-free, and has been developed to be compatible with most CubeSat structures and OBCs.

Developed for non-space markets and available in 3 variants. The ISS-AX measures the incidence angles of a solar radiation with respect to its perpendicular. The ISS-DX and ISS-TX measure the incident angle of a sun ray in both orthogonal axes, and the solar radiation.

The Solar MEMS MASS sensor series includes an accelerometer, a magnetometer, and a sun sensor to measure angle of sun-ray, DNI solar radiation, and azimuth and elevation position of the device. The system has a mass of 100 g and is available in several configurations with different fields of view.

The Optical Ground Support Equipment (OGSE) offered by Solar MEMS is designed to enable customers to more easily perform electrical and optical tests on SSOC and nanoSSOC sun sensors, once installed on the satellite and during AIT activities.

A Quad Thermopile sensor for Earth detection and Nadir vector determination that measures the infrared radiation from Space and from Earth with 4 IR-eyes. The system has a mass of 120 g and an accuracy (3-sigma EOL) of < 1 degree. It is also ITAR free and designed for missions of up to 3 years.

The Sun Sensor on a Chip (SSOC) is a two-axis system designed for sun-tracking, pointing, and attitude determination in a ±60 degree field of view. It is ITAR-free, compatible with most CubeSat structures and OBCs, and has a mass of 4 g.

The Solar MEMS Sun Sensor on a Chip (SSoC) is based on MEMS fabrication processes, designed to achieve accurate integrated sensing structures for sun-tracking, positioning, and attitude determination. It has a mass of 25 g and ±60 degree field of view with an accuracy (3-sigma) of < 0.3 degrees.

The SSOC-D60 device measures the incident angle of a sun ray in both axes. It includes a microprocessor that directly provides the sunlight incident angles, and their derivatives, without external calculations, via a digital interface. It has a TRL of 9 and a mass of 35 g. The sensor also has a ±60 degree field of view with an accuracy (3-sigma) of < 0.3 degrees.

commercial flexibility
constellations
engineering
procurement
sun sensors
supply chain

related articles

Blog home

Mathieu Bailly 24, February 2021

Cybersecurity for smallsats – 5 key concepts explained

Hywel Curtis 16, February 2021

Smallsat and CubeSat GPS antennas and GNSS systems

Hywel Curtis 28, January 2021

A closer look at the Indian space industry