Star Trackers are often the most accurate instrument in an Attitude Determination and Control Systems, but often present a slow update rate, requiring additional sensor and sensor fusion algorithms to provide a smoother and faster output. However, the available rate gyros are either noisy, or expensive and heavy. The proposed work investigates the feasibility of high-speed star trackers with modern optics, sensors, and computing systems. Firstly, we investigate the sensitivity of an optoelectrical acquisition system stimulated by dim stars, secondly, we propose and evaluate an algorithm designed to operate at high speed and to be compatible with an Field-Programmable Gate Array implementation, before evaluating the performance of the implementation on FPGA. Finally, we debate the usability of such a system, both in terms of compatibility with a mission and CubeSat ecosystems, and in terms of performance. As a result, aside from removing the need for a rate gyro, Attitude Determination and Control Systems overall pointing performances can be increased. The proposed attitude determination system achieved a 0.001° accuracy, with a 99.1% sky coverage and an ability to reject false-positive while performing a single-frame lost-in-space star identification at a 50 Hz update rate with a total delay of 19 ms, including 13 ms.
Keywords: ADCS; CubeSat; FPGA; IMU-free; attitude determination; computer vision; error correction; high-speed; image processing; star detection; star tracker.