NSS CubeSat Sun Sensor


The CubeSat sun sensor determines the spacecraft body angles with respect to the sun. The sensor is extremely small and light to minimise the demands on nano-spacecraft. The sensor achieves much higher measurement accuracy than traditional photodiode cosine sensors.

The sensor consists of a CMOS PSD detector sitting behind a small pin-hole with a field of view of +/- 57 degrees. The device produces four analogue voltages that are dependant on the incident angle of sunlight in the horizontal and vertical directions. Each sensor is supplied with a calibration algorithm that calculates the sun vector from these four voltages to an accuracy of +/-0.5 degrees.

  • Features
  • Performance
  • Product properties
  • Qualification
  • Documents
  • Applications:
    • Accurate determination of sun-angle
    • Six sensors can achieve full sky coverage
    • Used in conjunction with a magnetometer for simple attitude control
    • Can be used as safe-mode sensors on gyro or star-mapper controlled systems
  • PSD architecture
  • Good accuracy
  • Wide field of view
  • Ultra Small size and low mass
  • Low power
  • Simple analogue interface
  • Field of view: 114°
  • Update Rate: >10 Hz (limited by ADC)
  • Accuracy: <0.5°
  • Interfaces:
    • Power Supply: 5V
    • I/F: 5 analogue channels, 9-way Nano-D connector
  • Mass: < 5 g
  • Power: < 10 mA
  • Size: 33mm x 11mm x 6mm
  • Environmental Characteristics
    • Operating temperature: -25°C to +50°C
    • 250 rms random, 1000g shock (Qualification levels)
    • 10krad total dose (component level)

The NFSS-411 was first flown in 2007. Since then, it has been used on a number of constellations with a total of over 100 delivered. The NCSS-SA05 has also been delivered, more than one hundred units, to a multitude of international satellite programmes.