News Item

First MEMS gyros in space

The first micro electro-mechanical system (MEMS) gyros to be used in space are successfully navigating ESA’s CryoSat-2 satellite.

The Goodrich Corporation gyroscopes have successfully passed in-orbit testing on the Earth Explorer CryoSat-2 satellite during a mission to detect shifts in global ice cover.

The MEMS gyros - the smallest ever flown by ESA - are integrated into the SiREUS rate sensor, used to monitor the satellite’s rate of spin.

An ESA Control Systems Division spokesman explains that the satellite’s precision ice measurements rely on knowing its orbital position and attitude very precisely - requiring highly accurate navigation sensor performance.

At the heart of the SiREUS rate sensor are three 1 sq cm MEMS gyros built by Atlantic Inertial Systems (AIS) of Plymouth. Running on 6 watts and weighing 750 g, the gyros are developments of units already used worldwide for automotive electronic stability control.

Their evolution for space was backed through ESA’s Technology Programmes with 3 UK companies: Selex Galileo, AIS and Systems Engineering and Assessment (SEA).

The Goodrich Director of MEMS Technology explains that they have delivered over 18 million MEMS-based gyros around the world - and the ESA program offers the first opportunity to explore the potential of them for the unique needs of the space sector.

Details from Goodrich below.

  • 16 November 2010
  • Space

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