High-precision electrostatic accelerometers have achieved remarkable success in satellite Earth gravity field recovery missions. Ultralow-noise inertial sensors play important roles in space gravitational wave detection missions such as the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) mission, and key technologies have been verified in the LISA Pathfinder mission. Meanwhile, at Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST, China), a space accelerometer and inertial sensor based on capacitive sensors and the electrostatic control technique have also been studied and developed independently for more than 16 years. In this paper, we review the operational principle, application, and requirements of the electrostatic accelerometer and inertial sensor in different space missions. The development and progress of a space electrostatic accelerometer at HUST, including ground investigation and space verification are presented.
Keywords: electrostatic accelerometer; gravitational wave detection in space; inertial sensor; satellite gravity recovery.