Radiometric actuators for spacecraft attitude control

Ravi Teja Nallapu, Amit Tallapragada, Jekan Thangavelautham

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations


CubeSats and small satellites are emerging as low-cost tools to perform astronomy, exoplanet searches and earth observation. These satellites can be dedicated to pointing at targets for weeks or months at a time. This is typically not possible on larger missions where usage is shared. Current satellites use reaction wheels and where possible magneto-torquers to control attitude. However, these actuators can induce jitter due to various sources. In this work, we introduce a new class of actuators that exploit radiometric forces induced by gasses on surface with a thermal gradient. Our work shows that a CubeSat or small spacecraft mounted with radiometric actuators can achieve precise pointing of few arc-seconds or less and avoid the jitter problem. The actuator is entirely solid-state, containing no moving mechanical components. This ensures high-reliability and long-life in space. A preliminary design for these actuators is proposed, followed by feasibility analysis of the actuator performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2017 IEEE Aerospace Conference
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
ISBN (Electronic)9781509016136
StatePublished - Jun 7 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event2017 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2017 - Big Sky, United States
Duration: Mar 4 2017Mar 11 2017

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Other2017 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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