3_1_ESA Portal - ESA preparing �sugar-cube� gyro sensors for future missions

3_1_ESA Portal - ESA preparing �sugar-cube� gyro sensors for future missions

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Wednesday16/Sep/2009 7:17 PM ESA Portal - ESA preparing ‘sugar-cube’ gyro sensors for future missions - printer version Page 1 of 3 http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMVXYUHYXF_index_2.html Inside view of MEMS rate sensor ESA preparing ‘sugar-cube’ gyro sensors for future missions 9 September 2009 One of ESA's future Earth observation missions will monitor its orientation in space with the help of the smallest gyro ever flown by the Agency. Now being tested, the sugar cube-sized device at the heart of the gyro unit is derived from a sensor used in anti-lock braking systems on millions of cars. There is no up or down in space. Satellites track their pointing direction using the same approach as on submarines and aircraft: fast-spinning gyroscopes that maintain a fixed orientation in the same way as a child’s spinning top. But space-quality gyros employing this principle are complex, bulky and insufficiently reliable for long space missions. “There have been several failures in orbit of these older mechanical gyros and their reliability became an issue,” says Stéphane Dussy of ESA’s Control Systems Division. “They are now considered to be obsolete because more reliable gyros have been developed using solid-state technologies from other areas.” MEMS in their millions Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) are an especially promising innovation. They are made in a similar way to microprocessors but incorporating moving parts or sensors so that complete devices can be fitted onto a single silicon chip. Attractive for space because of their small size, low power consumption and resistance to vibration,
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This note was uploaded on 04/04/2010 for the course EE 3 taught by Professor Staff during the Winter '08 term at UCLA.

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3_1_ESA Portal - ESA preparing �sugar-cube� gyro sensors for future missions

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