Satellite Attitude

The attitude of a craft can be described using three mutually perpendicular axes of rotation, generally referred to as roll, pitch, and yaw angles respectively.  Attitude control is controlling the orientation of an object with respect to an inertial frame of reference.

Orientation can be determined by calibration using an external guidance system, such as determining the angles to a reference star or the Sun, then internally monitored using an inertial system of mechanical or optical gyroscopes.

Orientation is a vector quantity described by three angles for the instantaneous direction, and the instantaneous rates of roll in all three axes of rotation.


The aspect of control implies both awareness of the instantaneous orientation and rates of roll and the ability to change the roll rates to assume a new orientation using either a reaction control system or other means.