The Cosine Sun Sensor (CoSS) delivers coarse information about the position of the sun relative to the spacecraft. This information is used for coarse maneuvering of the spacecraft and to inform the spacecraft about the position of the sun.

The CoSS delivers coarse information about the polar angle of the sun. This information is derived from the fact that the sensor output varies approximately proportional to the Cosine function of the angle of incidence of sunlight.

With a suite of CoSS, of which at least three sensors with different viewing directions have the sun in their field of view, the Attitude & Orbit Control Subsystem (AOCS) can retrieve the position of the sun in the coordinate reference system of the spacecraft. Typically there are eight to twelve CoSS per space platform.

Key Advantages

  • Large FOV (160˚ full cone) for measurement of solar aspect offset angle
  • On-board computer can reconstitute the sun vector unambiguously from illumination of three units
  • Qualified for several different orbits, including low earth orbits with many temperature excursions
  • Qualified for very severe radiation regions (LEO in Van Allen belts)
  • Virtually zero EMC susceptibility and no emissions

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Last updated: 2022-05-28

Cosine Sun Sensor




14.5 mm
30 mm
30 mm
Exclusive cable: 24 grams With 1.5 meter of cable: 50 grams
field of view
Minimum operational FOV: 160 degrees of arc full cone angle (±80°)
pointing accuracy
accuracy typically in the order of ±3 degrees of arc

1. height is perpendicular to mounting plane Overall height including cable clamp: 35 mm


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