Assessing attitude error of FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC satellites and its impact on orbit determination

Tzu Pang Tseng, Chein-way Hwang*, Shan Kuo Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


An attitude determination and control system (ADCS) is critical to satellite attitude maneuvers and to the coordinate transformation from the inertial frame to the spacecraft frame. This paper shows specific sensors in the ADCS of the satellite mission FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC (F3/C) and the impact of the ADCS quality on orbit accuracy. The selection of main POD antenna depends on the beta angles of the different F3/C satellites (for FM2 and FM4) during the inflight phase. In particular, under the eclipse, alternative attitude sensors are activated to replace the Sun sensors, and such a sensor change leads to anomalous GPS phase residuals and a degraded orbit accuracy. Since the nominal attitude serves as a reference for ADCS, the 3-dimensional attitude-induced errors in reduced dynamic orbits over selected days in 2010 show 9.35, 10.78, 4.97, 5.48, 7.18, and 6.89 cm for FM1-FM6. Besides, the 3-dimensional velocity errors induced by the attitude effect are 0.10, 0.10, 0.07, 0.08, 0.09, and 0.10 for FM1-FM6. We analyze the quality of the observed attitude transformation matrix of F3/C and its impact on kinematic orbit determination. With 249 days of GPS in 2008, the analysis leads to the following averaged 3-dimensional attitude-induced orbit errors: 2.72, 2.62, 2.37, 1.90, 1.70, and 1.99 cm for satellites FM1-FM6. Critical suggestions of geodetic payloads for the follow-on mission of F3/C are presented based on the current result.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1301-1312
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2012


  • Attitude
  • Beta angle
  • GPS
  • Kinematic orbit

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