EMS Technologies, Inc. is announcing today the successful launch of the first production units of its new CALTRAC Star Tracker system aboard the NASA Discovery mission, Genesis. The two-year mission will collect samples of the solar wind expelled by the Sun, to help scientists better understand the make-up of the solar system.
The most significant instruments in the Guidance and Navigation Control System are the pair of EMS CALTRAC Star Trackers, which perform a critical role in spacecraft attitude control. The CALTRAC Star Tracker was developed by the EMS Space & Technology Optical Products Group in Ottawa, Ontario. It is a small, compact instrument, incorporating optics, detector, signal processing electronics, power supplies and the tracker structure in a single unit.
"EMS Technologies is pleased to provide a high-speed, fully autonomous star tracker that can assist NASA's experimental requirements and assure that satellites maintain proper attitude continually while in flight," said Martin Lihou, director, Commercial Instruments, EMS Space & Technology Group.
The CALTRAC Star Tracker is an innovative spacecraft attitude-sensing instrument that combines the precise attitude determination capability of a traditional star sensor with the high-speed response normally associated with gyros, scanning earth sensors, and sun sensors. This allows the CALTRAC star tracker to perform a wider range of roles than traditional star sensors, from attitude recovery/acquisition through to precision attitude tracking. With a wide field of view, the CALTRAC unit provides a low noise celestial attitude.
This performance is the result of implementing a variety of performance- enhancing technologies. Chief among these is the use of special hardware- based image processing techniques that permit stars to be located in real-time without software assistance. The unit is fully autonomous, providing celestial attitude information based upon real-time star images.
"In 2000, the EMS Star Tracker system performed exceptionally well on an experimental basis during two NASA Space Shuttle Atlantis missions, STS-101 and STS106, providing both a high data rate and extremely accurate tracking for long periods of time," commented Martin Lihou. "The system has demonstrated that it can meet critical navigational requirements in the rugged environment of space."
EMS Technologies, Inc. is a leading innovator in the design and manufacture of wireless and satellite solutions, and focuses its unique range of advanced technologies on the needs of broadband and mobile information users. The Company is headquartered in Atlanta, employs almost 2,000 people worldwide and has manufacturing facilities in Atlanta, Brazil, Montreal and Ottawa.
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