Attitude and In-orbit Residual Magnetic Moment Estimation of Small Satellites Using only Magnetometer

Raunak Srivastava, Roshan Sah, Kaushik Das

Attitude estimation or determination is a fundamental task for satellites to remain effectively operational. This task is furthermore complicated on small satellites by the limited space and computational power available on-board. This, coupled with a usually low budget, restricts small satellites from using high precision sensors for its especially important task of attitude estimation. On top of this, small satellites, on account of their size and weight, are comparatively more sensitive to environmental or orbital disturbances as compared to their larger counterparts. Magnetic disturbance forms the major contributor to orbital disturbances on small satellites in Lower Earth Orbits (LEO). This magnetic disturbance depends on the Residual Magnetic Moment (RMM) of the satellite itself, which for higher accuracy should be determined in real-time. This paper presents a method for in-orbit estimation of the satellite magnetic dipole using a Random Walk Model in order to circumnavigate the inaccuracy arising due to unknown orbital magnetic disturbances. It is also ensured that the dipole as well as attitude estimation of the satellite is done using only a magnetometer as the sensor.

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