Honeywell Launches MEMS Sensor to Help Small Satellites Navigate



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The HG4934 space flow sensor is compared in size to a typical smartphone. (Photo: Honeywell)

New, smaller sensors deliver low-cost, high-performance navigation with less power consumption, the company said.

Honeywell unveiled a new speed sensor to help small satellites navigate increasingly crowded orbits above the Earth’s surface. The new Micro-Electromechanical System (MEMS) based product offers low cost and low power consumption in a smaller size than previous Honeywell offerings, while maintaining high performance levels. It is suitable for customers who build smaller, less expensive satellites, according to Honeywell.

Honeywell’s HG4934 space speed sensor is roughly the same size and weight (145 grams) as a baseball. Compared to previous Honeywell rate sensors, it only consumes a fifth of the electrical energy, is more than 32 times lighter and 60 times smaller. It is also more tolerant of radiation, a key attribute in space.

“With this new sensor, our customers can build smaller, less expensive satellites that are just as capable and reliable as their traditional predecessors, allowing them to implement new satellite technologies such as 5G telecommunications or the Internet. global broadband, ”said Mike Elias. , Vice President and General Manager, Space, Honeywell Aerospace. “In addition, the number of satellites is only increasing, which leads to more congested orbits. It is essential that our customers have very precise navigation solutions to help prevent accidents, which could cause functioning satellites to go out of orbit.

A space speed sensor, also known as an inertial reference unit or IRU, is an inertial sensor made up of three gyroscopes that work together to detect rates of rotation. They determine the change in the rotational attitude of an aircraft or spacecraft over time and allow it to move from one location to another without using any external information. It can also serve as a back-up solution to provide redundancy in the event of failure of other navigation systems.

Celestial navigation options such as star trackers are a popular method of obtaining pointing directions for satellites and spacecraft. This form of navigation uses angular measurements between objects in space (stars, planets, etc.) and the horizon to calculate location. However, these star trackers are sometimes blinded by the sun or affected by propellants. In this case, Honeywell’s HG4934 can be used as a secondary attitude determination method.

Honeywell’s HG4934 Space Flow Sensor is now available for commercial, defense and scientific applications. The first deliveries to customers started at the end of 2020.

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