I am an electronic engineer trying to dive in space engineering. To develop an ADCS system, one of the most famous and easy algorithms is TRIAD.

Why does this algorithm need the sun and the magnetic field? What do those two elements provide us more than other elements to know the satellite's attitude (for example)?

There is (IMO) no need to dive into complex mathematics or physics. I would like to get a general understanding of the "space-mechanics" of the algorithm.


1 Answer 1


You can also use the triad method with other linearly independent reference vectors, like star trackers, earth/horizon sensors, or directional antennas.

Sun trackers are cheap, and useful for other tasks like solar panel and instrument positioning. Magnetometers are also pretty cheap.

  • $\begingroup$ From whatdoes our choice depend? 1 for vertical informations and 1 for horizontal? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ Vertical and horizontal are arbitrary choices; the vectors just have to be linearly independent. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 11:19

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