CubeSat developments at KU Leuven

SpaceBillboard is a project set up by researchers of the KU Leuven university. With the revenue of this project, we will fund the CubeSat research at our university. But what exactly is this research about?

At KU Leuven, the departments of Mechanics and Astronomy are working together on the system that rotates the satellite in the right orientation, called the attitude of the CubeSat. We want to be able to control the orientation of the spacecraft, because we want to point our payload (e.g. a camera) in the right direction.

Not only do we want to control the orientation, we want to control it with high accuracy and stability. In essence, the people of Astronomy want to take pictures from objects that do not emit that much light: distant stars, galaxies, etc. Maybe you have already taken pictures at night yourself. To be able to see anything, you need to make the shutter time longer. Unless you have a very steady hand, you have probably seen that light sources (e.g. a lamp in the photo) create paths of light because you moved during the exposure time. For images taken on board of a satellite, the same effect holds. If the satellite jitters too much, the image will not be of high quality.

That is why we decided to make an attitude determination and control system that controls the orientation of the CubeSat with high accuracy, stability and agility. How exactly we do that will be explained in the next blog post :-).