Development of a miniaturized star sensor for nanosatellite applications


University of Montpellier (UM), National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)


Montpellier Laboratory of Informatics, Robotics, and Microelectronics (LIRMM) University of Montpellier Space Center (CSUM)


Patent, software

Desired Partnership



Being able to control the attitude of nanosatellites is a key function for missions requiring precise direction and a high level of stability, as is the case for telecommunications and earth observation missions. This function is implemented by a subsystem called the Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS), which comprises an attitude sensor, calculator, and actuators. Attitude sensors implement various technologies, including solar sensors, magnetometers, GPS, earth horizon sensors, and star sensors. Cost constraints are a significant factor for nanosatellites, most often resulting in the choice of lower-precision solutions. At this time, “star sensors” have never been used in a nanosatellite (<6U) for cost reasons, yet they are the only sensors able to guarantee positioning accuracy sufficient to enable many types of applications.


The star sensor developed in this project are designed to achieve the following specifications: 5’ response time; 1 second “lost in space” response time; 20 Hz frequency; 1W consumption; weight 0.1 kg.


Space/nanosatellite applications for telecommunications or observation and/or mapping missions.