31 Oct '12, 8pm

Overclock My Satellite

Overclock My Satellite

To execute the command, the computer calculates the path the satellite must follow to reach its destination. All satellites today are equipped with basic software programs that simply compute the shortest route from start to finish. This “smallest-angle rotation” describes the arc of a circle, like the path traced by the hand of a clock. The flight computer then guides the satellite along this path by controlling battery-­powered electric motors, which speed up or slow down a set of flywheels. These spinning mechanical wheels store angular momentum. When the speed of a flywheel changes, it creates a torque on the satellite that causes the spacecraft to rotate in the direction opposite the change in the whirring wheel. By simultaneously activating several flywheels in different positions, we can direct a satellite to turn in any direction, as a ball bearing would.

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/satellites/overclock-m...

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