Masters Theses

Keywords and Phrases



"The topic of this thesis focuses on attitude determination for small satellites. The method described uses only a magnetometer to resolve the three-axis attitude of the satellite. The primary challenge is that magnetometers only instantaneously resolve two axes of a satellite's attitude. Typically, magnetometers are used in conjunction with other sensors to resolve all three axes. However, by using a filter over an adequately long orbit arc, the magnetometer data can yield all the information necessary. The magnetic field data are filtered to obtain the magnetic field derivative vector, which are combined with the magnetic field vector to fully resolve the attitude. Once the magnetic field vector and its derivative are calculated, the filtered measurement and derivative are used as pseudo-measurements for a second filter that estimates the attitude quaternion and the angular rates. This estimate must meet the system requirements that are typically required of the attitude determination and control subsystem for the mission under consideration. In this thesis research, the Missouri University of Science and Technology's M-SAT mission was used as a case study to demonstrate the methods developed. Finally, the method is tested using varying initial conditions and orbit parameters. The inclination in particular is cautiously observed. The method in which the magnetic field derivative is determined suffers a loss in accuracy for lower inclinations, suggesting that a parametric study with respect to orbit inclination is prudent. Accordingly, such a parametric study was conducted and is presented as part of this thesis"--Abstract, page iii.


Pernicka, Hank
Balakrishnan, S. N.

Committee Member(s)

Landers, Robert G.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Name

M.S. in Aerospace Engineering


Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

Spring 2011


ix, 97 pages

Note about bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 83-86).


© 2011 Jason David Searcy, All rights reserved.

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

File Type




Subject Headings

Artificial satellites -- Attitude control systems
Space vehicles -- Attitude control systems

Thesis Number

T 9861

Print OCLC #


Electronic OCLC #