ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository

Development of a stand-alone 3-axis european accelerometer unit for spaceflight applications
A.P. Bacon, D. Durrant, M.A. Utton, J. Vandersteen
Presented at:
Salzburg 2017
Full paper:

Thales Alenia Space UK (TAS-UK) Ltd, with its partners Safran Colibrys Ltd and Almatech Ltd, have developed a stand-alone three-axis accelerometer unit for Space applications as part of the European Space Agency's (ESA) Mars Robotic Exploration Preparation (MREP) Programme. This unit is intended to fulfil requirements for a low mass, medium accuracy acceleration sensor source to aid future Space launch vehicles, spacecraft delta-v monitoring, rendez-vous and docking, and planetary landers and rovers. There was a particular emphasis on meeting the needs for the precision landing systems for Mars surface missions to maximise science return by reducing the size of landing error ellipses. The unit has been developed with the goal of maximising the number of European sourced components whilst also reducing mass and power consumption. To this end, state-of-the-art Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) type radiation hardened accelerometers from Safran Colibrys, currently undergoing qualification in a separate ESA programme, have been used as they have a significantly reduced size, mass and power consumption compared to current medium accuracy accelerometers qualified for space. This project builds upon previous TAS-UK and Colibrys collaborations in the field of Space Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs). This paper discusses the design trade-offs considered, test results of the Engineering Model (EM) level unit and concludes on the expected performance and further required development of the future unit.