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Sensors 2012, 12(12), 16451-16465; doi:10.3390/s121216451
Article

Digital Sun Sensor Multi-Spot Operation

 and
*
Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Naples “Federico II”, Piazzale Tecchio 80, 80125 Naples, Italy
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 September 2012 / Revised: 21 November 2012 / Accepted: 23 November 2012 / Published: 28 November 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Italy 2012)
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Abstract

The operation and test of a multi-spot digital sun sensor for precise sun-line determination is described. The image forming system consists of an opaque mask with multiple pinhole apertures producing multiple, simultaneous, spot-like images of the sun on the focal plane. The sun-line precision can be improved by averaging multiple simultaneous measures. Nevertheless, the sensor operation on a wide field of view requires acquiring and processing images in which the number of sun spots and the related intensity level are largely variable. To this end, a reliable and robust image acquisition procedure based on a variable shutter time has been considered as well as a calibration function exploiting also the knowledge of the sun-spot array size. Main focus of the present paper is the experimental validation of the wide field of view operation of the sensor by using a sensor prototype and a laboratory test facility. Results demonstrate that it is possible to keep high measurement precision also for large off-boresight angles.
Keywords: sun sensor; APS; centroiding; attitude determination; image processing sun sensor; APS; centroiding; attitude determination; image processing
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).
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Rufino, G.; Grassi, M. Digital Sun Sensor Multi-Spot Operation. Sensors 2012, 12, 16451-16465.

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