Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Space & Planetary Sciences (MS)

Degree Level



Space & Planetary Sciences


Po-Hao Adam Huang

Committee Member

Roe, Larry

Second Committee Member

Jensen, David


Attitude Determination and Control, CubeSatellite, Detumbling, Planetary Science


ARKSAT-1 is a CubeSatellite (CubeSat) developed at the University of Arkansas and launched to the International Space Station on SpaceX mission SPX-27 launching from Kennedy Space Center as part of the NASA’s 8th CubeSat Launch Initiative CSLI-8. ARKSAT-1’s payload features a high-powered LED, the Solid State Inflatable Balloon (SSIB) deorbiting system applicable to small satellites, and a series of InfraRed and Visible cameras. To point the LED or take images of desired observational targets, the spacecraft will need to be able to determine its orientation within its orbit, as well as rotate. This will be achieved through the use of magnetorquers on each face of the satellite. Magnetorquers are often used on CubeSat class satellites, due to their low cost and mass as well as a simple design consisting of metal coils and no moving parts. The goal of this work is to quantify expected external torques on ARKSAT-1 for appropriate sizing of the torquers, develop software to implement detumbling algorithms, and finally to measure the performance of the torquers. ARKSAT-1 utilizes 9-axis MEMS gyro, accelerometer, and magnetometer, which are used for the purposes of detumbling. It will have two detumbling modes for Bang-Bang and Bdot control, either of which can be used to damp out high rates of angular rotation shortly after deployment. The software for the Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) system takes data from the magnetometer, determines the rate of change of the local magnetic field, and activates the appropriate torquers to counteract the direction of satellite rotation. The GNC system is controlled by a pair of PIC microcontrollers which are connected to the appropriate sensors and torquers. The Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS) for ARKSAT-1 is more than sufficient to overcome external torques on the satellite, and will be able to achieve detumbling at the maximum expected deployment angular rate of ±10deg/sec/axis. The algorithms, software, and results will be used not only on the ARKSAT-1 project, but are applicable to ongoing spacecraft development at the University of Arkansas, including the ARKSAT-2 and ARKSAT-3 projects.