ESA Science Core Technology Development Success Story - Unrivalled High Accuracy Star Tracker [Aug/2022]
Funded by ESA’s Science Core Technology Programme, the development of ASTRO XP – an autonomous high accuracy star tracker of the 0.1 arcsec class – demonstrates leadership and strengthens European competitiveness in the Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS) market. This ambitious technology development project has been conducted by Jena-Optronik, a German subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space. The company used a unique low expansion material, which provides an extremely high level of stability within the space environment.
High accuracy star trackers are essential sensors that determine the attitude of spacecraft. ESA has funded technology development projects first through the General Support Technology Programme (GSTP) and now the Science Core Technology Programme (CTP) for a high accuracy star tracker that could meet the demanding requirements of upcoming missions.
New knowledge, expertise and processes developed within the ASTRO XP project can have wider-reaching impacts through integration into Jena-Optronik’s approach to their products. Through its participation in the ESA CTP, Jena-Optronik has developed a new product that it is now planning to bring to market as a high accuracy offering, which from an overall technical perspective is not available from any other competitor. The Astro XP star tracker has potential fields of application in Earth Observation missions in GEO and LEO orbits as well as further space science missions, opening new market opportunities for Jena-Optronik.
Europe has positioned itself at the forefront of star tracker technological development with the development of the ASTRO XP solution. Jena-Optronik has improved state-of-the-art start tracker technology representing the 1 arcsec class by one order of magnitude in accuracy to 0.1 arcsec. Overall, this means that this project is supporting the European development of a solution that is highly competitive on the global market, especially considering its low-powered, low-mass impacts will support the ability of a spacecraft to have more capacity for its complex scientific instruments, as well as retaining a longer-lifespan or battery life due to less power demand. Furthermore, it has also brought new capabilities and knowledge to the European landscape.
This means that ESA has access to high-accuracy star tracker solutions that are not dependent on other countries.
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This initiative is led by ESA’s Science Core Technology Programme. More information can be accessed at ESA - Science Core Technology Programme (CTP).