Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Eric D. Swenson, PhD.


A method of 3-axis satellite attitude determination utilizing six body-fixed light sensors and a 3-axis magnetometer is analyzed. A Helmholtz cage is designed, built, and tested to provide a dynamic, 3-axis, uniform magnetic field to cancel the Earth's magnetic field and create an environment similar to the geomagnetic field a satellite would experience on-orbit. A CubeSat is provided the inertial magnetic vector and Sun vector, which are combined with data from the light sensors and magnetometer in a CubeSat. Attitude is estimated on-board the CubeSat via the optimal fast quaternion estimation algorithm. The capabilities of the Helmholtz cage, including the uniformity of the produced magnetic field, are examined as is the accuracy of the on-board attitude determination. The results show that a support column in the vicinity of the cage impacts the uniformity of the magnetic field. The desired ± 2 Gauss magnetic field was achieved in two of three directions, and the cage was equipped to simulate a dynamic magnetic field as would be experienced in orbit. Attitude determination with the OFQEA is achieved to within ± 6 degrees of error.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number