Presenting at CubeSat Workshop, SmallSat 2015, Logan, UT

I will be presenting at the CubeSat Workshop on August 8th, part of the annual conference on Small Satellites on the campus of Utah State University, in Logan, UT. The presentation is about our design of a miniature star camera for small satellites and CubeSats in particular. The goal is to build a camera and develop image processing algorithms to implement a star imager at the scale of modern smart-phone cameras, which will enable the use of an array of cameras on a CubeSat.

The Workshop and Conference schedules can be found here.

Distributed Star Imaging for CubeSats

CubeSat Star Imaging

We have received an award from the NASA Michigan Space Grant Consortium to develop a star imaging approach for CubeSats using an array of miniature cameras.

Attitude determination for small spacecraft in the 1-5 kilogram range is one of the major technological challenges limiting their utility for a variety of missions. In prior work, we have developed a visual approach for attitude propagation. By tracking the motion of stars in a camera’s field of view, the rotation of the spacecraft can be found in three degrees of freedom. We refer to the approach as a stellar gyroscope. The proposed work builds on the prior success and findings to pursue a promising new topology. Essentially, we will miniaturize the sensor nodes and lenses to design a camera in the size range of modern smartphone cameras capable of star imaging while utilizing the stellar gyroscope algorithm’s noise tolerance in post-processing. This will allow small spacecraft to incorporate up to one camera on each side if needed, with one centralized image processing subsystem.

MSGC Star Imaging


KySat-2 secondary model selected for deployement from International Space Station

NASA has awarded payload flight opportunities for research and technology development onboard the International Space Station to academic institutions across the U.S. Among the selected projects is the launch and deployment of the KySat-2 secondary model from the ISS. The primary model KySat-2 was launched by NASA on November 19, 2013 out of Wallops Island, VA.

kysat-2_flight_modelsThe research experiment includes several systems and experiments designed by Dr. Rawashdeh at the Space Systems Laboratory at the University of Kentucky. Specifically, a flight test of the Stellar Gyroscope concept, and analysis and of attitude dynamics using the SNAP simulation tool. The Rawashdeh group at UM-Dearborn will continue to support the mission, mainly in analyzing the experiment data. More on the KySat-2 Mission can be found here.

The awards are through NASA’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The official press release can be found here, with abstracts here.

Abbreviated abstract:

The primary mission is to test a new method of attitude determination for small spacecraft called the stellar gyroscope, which estimates attitude changes by analyzing the relative motion of stars between successive image frames, lowering the computational and power requirements necessary to propagate attitude changes. Launch from the ISS will allow characterization the stellar gyroscope hardware, verification of the sensitivity of the sensor for star imaging as well as the image processing required on-orbit. Additionally, ejection from the ISS altitude will allow analysis of the ejection dynamics of the spacecraft using the Smart Nanosatellite Attitude Propagator (SNAP) tool to characterize atmospheric drag for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) CubeSats.