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We are building a 3U satellite to orbit Earth and measure space debris.

Between gyroscope, GPS, IMU, magnetometer, Sun sensors and star tracker, which would be essential sensors for the ADCS?

Or should we need something else, such as an Earth sensor or nadir sensor?

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  • $\begingroup$ The answer is "it depends". Can you add some more information to your question? For example, how accurately does it have to point? if it has a high magnification telescope then you will need a lot more sophistication than if it has only a wide-angle camera. Also, once it's deployed in space it will initially be tumbling. How quickly do you need to de-tumble? Will the batteries begin to charge no matter if it's tumbling or not? Are there some attitudes with respect to the Sun that should be avoided because there are no solar panels? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 31 at 2:22
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have plenty of solar power so you can run a lot of current through magneto-torquers? Will you have reaction wheels? This is a hard task and each part of the problem is connected to all the other parts, so the more you can explain how your spacecraft is powered and how you plan to operate it, the better an answer can address your needs. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 31 at 2:23
  • $\begingroup$ Alternatively, you might want to think of adding an additional IMU, magnetometer, etc. What if one fails? Then again, you might want to add one more yet: "Never go to sea with two chronometers; take one or three." Then again, you won't have a low budget cubesat anymore. There's always a tradeoff between risk, accuracy, mission goals, and budget (mass, size, dollars). Essentially, nothing is essential unless proven otherwise. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Jul 31 at 9:19
  • $\begingroup$ Considering how light, cheap, and small sensors are today, you should really use as many as possible. Nobody ever wishes they had less data, while people often wish they had more. $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Jul 31 at 12:50

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