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Innovation & Technologie Angebot

High reliability sun sensors for space and terrestrial applications that can be cost effectively produced in larger quantities

Country of Origin: Netherlands
Reference Number: TONL20190225001
Publication Date: 25 February 2019


A Dutch SME is specialized in the development and production of sun sensors for spacecraft. Most important advantages of the sun sensor are the cost effectiveness, a high field of view, high accuracy,  high radiation tolerance, extended temperature range, meeting all space agency specifications and a high technology readiness level. The SME is interested in commercial agreements with technical assistance to suppliers of attitude & orbit control subsystems for spacecraft and satellites.


A Dutch SME develops and produces sun sensors for space and terrestrial applications. 

A sun sensor is a rugged, highly reliable device designed to detect sunlight in a near hemispherical field of view (FOV). The sun sensor is used in attitude control applications where reliability of sun acquisition is desired and medium accuracy is acceptable.
Sun sensors deliver coarse information about the position of the sun relative to the spacecraft. This information is used for coarse maneuvering of the spacecraft and to inform the spacecraft about the position of the sun when it is in a safe mode of operation or during the launch and early orbit phase (LEOP).

The sun sensor is designed to deliver individual detector outputs to a satellite control subsystem, called Attitude & Orbit Control System (AOCS). This approach enables the AOCS to derive solar aspect angles needed to know how to de-spin the satellite and where to point the solar panels.

A sun sensor is a critical sensor for a spacecraft as sun pointing is needed during LEOP and safe mode operations to avoid battery drainage. For missions with a low pointing accuracy demand a sun sensor can serve as the prime attitude sensor but most commonly the sensors are used for:
• Accurate sun position determination.
• Satellite solar panel positioning.
• Attitude failure alarm (anomaly detectors).

The Dutch SME is interested in a commercial agreement with technical assistance involving manufacturers of Attitude & Orbit Control Systems (AOCS).
The core capabilities of the Dutch SME are the modelling, design for manufacturing, quality control and optimization of the sun sensor. Discussions about interface electronics and other design specifications are part of technical assistance.

The partner is desired to be the supplier of the Attitude & Orbit Control System (AOCS) for satellites. Although the sun sensors are ideally suited for satellites more than 10 kilogram, the sensors can be used on smaller satellites (CubeSats, NanoSats, PicoSats).

Advantages and Innovations

At this moment there are not many suppliers of sun sensors that meet all specifications for space applications. For that reason the Dutch SME develops and produces sun sensors for spacecraft.

Most important advantages and innovations are:
• High field of view (> 58±2 degrees on X and Y axis; >±66.1±2 degrees diagonal).
• High accuracy (<0.5 degrees 3 sigma using calibration tables; < 2 degrees using specific correction parameters; < 3.5 degrees without calibration).
• High radiation tolerance (1016 1MeV electrons).
• Extended temperature range (-125 Celsius to 125 Celsius).
• High technology readiness level (TRL 9).
• Fully compliant to all specifications of the big space agencies.
• In house availability of dedicated assembly, calibration and test equipment.
• Space grade commercial of the shelf delivery.
• Zero power consumption passive devices.
• Ready for cost effective production in larger quantities.
• Perfect sun sensor for platforms more than 10 kilogram.
• First flight contracts for spaceflights signed.
• Almost three decades of accumulated experience in space applications.

Stage Of Development

Already on the market

Requested partner

Type of partner:
Industry, research connected to space industry

Manufacturers of the Attitude & Orbit Control System (AOCS) for the satellites (including CubeSats, NanoSats, PicoSats).
The desired partner(s) should be interested in a cost effective, robust, high quality, high accurate sun sensor. The sun sensor is ready for cost effective production in larger quantities.

Role of the partner:
The partner is desired to manufacture the sub-system AOCS with key hardware like reaction wheels, magnetorquers, magnetometers, frictionless magnetic bearings and software for attitude estimation algorithms, control loop design and system testing.

The Dutch SME offers the sun sensor and the accommodation and interfacing expertise and is interested in a commercial agreement with technical assistance.

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