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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2013, Article ID 401282, 6 pages
Research Article

Attitude Determination with Magnetometers and Accelerometers to Use in Satellite Simulator

INPE, Avenida dos Astronautas 1758, 12227-010 São José dos Campos, SP, Brazil

Received 11 March 2013; Accepted 8 July 2013

Academic Editor: Maria Zanardi

Copyright © 2013 Helio Koiti Kuga and Valdemir Carrara. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Attitude control of artificial satellites is dependent on information provided by its attitude determination process. This paper presents the implementation and tests of a fully self-contained algorithm for the attitude determination using magnetometers and accelerometers, for application on a satellite simulator based on frictionless air bearing tables. However, it is known that magnetometers and accelerometers need to be calibrated so as to allow that measurements are used to their ultimate accuracy. A calibration method is implemented which proves to be essential for improving attitude determination accuracy. For the stepwise real-time attitude determination, it was used the well-known QUEST algorithm which yields quick response with reduced computer resources. The algorithms are tested and qualified with actual data collected on the streets under controlled situations. For such street runaways, the experiment employs a solid-state magnetoresistive magnetometer and an IMU navigation block consisting of triads of accelerometers and gyros, with MEMS technology. A GPS receiver is used to record positional information. The collected measurements are processed through the developed algorithms, and comparisons are made for attitude determination using calibrated and noncalibrated data. The results show that the attitude accuracy reaches the requirements for real-time operation for satellite simulator platforms.