Simulation, design, and analysis of the hybrid magnetic attitude and thermal control systems for the violet nanosatellite mission

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University of New Brunswick


Due to the accelerating growth of the nanosatellite industry, there is a gap to fill for more innovative, cost-effective attitude and thermal control solutions. Passive Magnetic Attitude Control (PMAC) systems are capable of aligning a spacecraft within ten degrees of the local geomagnetic field vector and have minimal mechanical complexity. The VIOLET CubeSat (2U), requires a solution with more pointing options due to the area of the ionosphere to be imaged by the Spectral Airglow Structure Imager (SASI) payload. A novel and cost-effective solution has been developed, named the Hybrid Magnetic Attitude Control (HMAC) system. This system utilizes PMAC components with the addition of five air-core magnetic torque coils aligned with the body-fixed axes of the nanosatellite. The attitude dynamics of VIOLET are simulated by the Smart Nanosatellite Attitude Propogator (SNAP) Simulink® tool box, which all relevant environmental and orbital conditions are considered. VIOLET is unique in the fact that it is a 2U, dual payload nanosatellite with an unusually high thermal output of its communications system. The small form factor coupled with high thermal output is a critical problem to solve to achieve mission success. Siemens NX Space Systems Thermal is being utilized to create a Finite Element Model (FEA) to properly model the thermal behavior of the nanosatellite for both Worst Case Hot (WCH) and Worst Case Cold (WCC) scenarios. The design of the Thermal Control System (TCS) progressed concurrently with the analyses to define heat paths throughout VIOLET, to ensure sub-system components will not exceed their acceptable temperature ranges.