Silicon Sensing’s inertial measurement technology to equip first small SAR satellite from iQPS

  • All-silicon inertial measurement unit (IMU) will help monitor and control the satellite throughout prolonged missions
  • This is the first Japanese high-resolution small SAR satellite, at 100Kg

Silicon Sensing Systems’ high performance DMU30 micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) inertial measurement unit (IMU) has been selected by the Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space, (iQPS) of Fukuoka, Japan, for the control system of Japan’s first X-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) small satellite. 

This is a 1m resolution, high-performance, X-band SAR-satellite weighing only 100Kg.  Ultimately, iQPS plans to deploy 36 of these satellites, offering an earth observation data service to support tasks such as disaster management as well as land and infrastructure surveying.

In this environment the advantages of Silicon Sensing’s MEMS technology over traditional high-performance options, such as fibre optic and ring laser gyro devices, are clear.  The DMU30, Silicon Sensing’s highest performing IMU, is an ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations)-free product that matches the performance of a FOG unit but is far more rugged, ideal for operating over extended periods in the harsh space environment. This formidable, high-integrity IMU is calibrated to deliver precision performance over the full rated temperature range. It is also much smaller, weighs less and is less costly than a comparable FOG device, freeing up capacity on the satellite for other technologies.

Masahiko Uetsuhara, Project Manager, iQPS explains: “Normally a gyro sensor’s output will include errors that appear over time and with severe temperature change and we would need to calibrate for that, but with the DMU30 that calibration is not required.  This reduces man-hours and improves work efficiency, both very important factors for us. This product is also technically reliable, has been proved in satellite projects, is ITAR free – and the price was attractive for this level of performance.”

On board the iQPS satellite DMU30 commences operation immediately after separation from the launch rocket and continues throughout each mission, working with other systems to monitor and control angular velocity and attitude angle and to assess and correct any rocking motion that occurs as key structures, such as the large antenna, are deployed.

Steve Capers, General Manager of Silicon Sensing Systems explains: “This is a fast-evolving market with ever-increasing demand for precise, controllable earth observation.  SAR satellites, with their ability to see through weather conditions, such as cloud cover, have traditionally been large and expensive items. Technologies such as our DMU30 all-silicon MEMS IMU are helping transform this market, enabling the development of satellites such as iQPS’s small and cost-effective X-band SAR satellite.”

Editor’s Notes:

iQPS (Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space)

iQPS is a space start-up founded in 2005 by two Emeritus Professors of Kyushu University and a rocket developer to establish the space industry in the Kyushu region in Japan.  The goal of iQPS small SAR satellite project is to deliver a near real-time data provision service.  In December 2019 iQPS launched its first small SAR satellite ‘Izanagi’ and planning to launch its second satellite ‘Izanami’ in the late 2020.  For further information please check:

Silicon Sensing Systems

Silicon Sensing Systems is a gyroscope and inertial systems engineering development company, jointly owned by Collins Aerospace and Sumitomo Precision Products.  The company was formed in 1999 and is, a market leader in silicon, micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS)-based navigation and stabilisation technology.  Approaching 40 million MEMS gyroscopes and accelerometers have been supplied to thousands of customers since the company’s formation. 

Photo captions:

1             iQPS small SAR satellite showing antenna

2             DMU30 is Silicon Sensing Systems’ latest high-performance inertial measurement unit.


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