The first Solar MEMS Star Tracker will soon be in orbit on an ESA satellite

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Solar MEMS is about to achieve another landmark by putting the first Star Tracker sensor into orbit in a satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA) called STNS. It is another project that the company has invested a great deal of time and work in, combining the latest in innovation, technology and creativity to track stars by using photographs and devices of very small size that are cheap but offer great precision.

Hard work always pays off, and the Solar MEMS team is about to earn its reward in the near future when the new STNS is launched into orbit. Its main mission is to track the stars and constellations so that it can work out its exact position in space.

Stars and constellations are very useful as guides. Sailors on the open seas have been using them for centuries, and Solar MEMS has expanded this ancestral knowledge further by taking it into space, using innovative technologies for this new step.

To work out its position in space, the tracker must obtain an image of the stars and measure its apparent position, taking the satellite as its point of reference and identifying the stars so that it can compare its precise location against the known position of the stars.

What is the STNS and how does it work?


Is a small low-cost star tracker based on a CMOS image sensor for highly accurate calculation of satellite attitude. This sensor captures images of a star field with an internal camera device and identifies star constellations to determine the orientation of the satellite in an absolute reference frame and attitude with high accuracy.

This is the first sensor with the stars as reference developed by Solar MEMS. Its knowledge and experience have been applied to a new technology, with the support of the team of José Manuel Quero Reboul, researcher of the University of Seville with more than 30 years of experience designing and developing innovative and challenging projects. This development has also been co-funded with FEDER funds in the frame of a Technology Transfer Program between Solar MEMS Technologies and the University of Seville.


Technical specifications

This Star Tracker has a reduced size, mass and power consumption, an UART communication port (and I2C, under request), and it is made of anodized aluminum. It is expected to be fully evaluated in orbit on an IOD/IOV mission lead by the European Space Agency in 2021/22. The objective of Solar MEMS was to develop a low-cost and robust new sensor for the ADCS market, that does not need any external memory or any extra processing unit, and including innovative algorithms to achieve high accuracy with fewer components. If you would like to learn more about the Star Tracker STNS or other new developments by Solar MEMS like the Horizon Sensor for Nano-Satellites (HSNS), please get in touch with us , we would be delighted to answer your questions.