Project: QB 50 Cubesat Project
Of the 50 satellites in the QB 50 project, 40 2U cubesats will have atmospheric sensors mounted on one of the 1U faces. The sensor must be kept within a certain angle of the orbital velocity ("ram", i.e., forward) vector. The University of Michigan is building two such satellites, and the primary means of attitude control for these satellites will be magnetic torque rods. Passing a current through these rods produces a magnetic dipole, which in turn generates a torque on the satellite as the dipole attempts to align itself with the Earth's magnetic field. In addition, the satellites are equipped with deployable "dart" panels, which serve as stabilizing tail fins. I am in charge of designing a controller for the satellite to take maximum advantage of the available magnetic torque to keep it pointed in the correct direction.