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
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).