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MEM Gyros for Space Applications

MEM Gyros for Space Applications

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MEM Gyros for Space Applications
MEM Gyros for Space Applications

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Published by: Hongraekim on Apr 28, 2010
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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics1
MEMS gyro for space applicationsOverview of European activities
Stéphane Dussy
 European Space Agency, Noordwijk – The Netherlands
Dick Durrant
Systems Engineering & Assessment Ltd, Bristol – United Kingdom
Tony Moy
 BAE Systems, Plymouth – United Kingdom
Nicolas Perriault and Bruno Célerier
 Alcatel Alenia Space, Cannes – France
The recent technological breakthrough in the area of Micro Electro Mechanical Systems(MEMS) have reached the stage where the MEMS rate sensors now present an undeniableinterest for use in space. However, in spite of their small size, low mass, low power and lowrecurring cost, together with their inherent immunity from shock and environmentalvibration and the lack of a wear out mechanism, the terrestrial off-the-shelf MEMS sensors,currently used for automotive applications, still require major technical adaptations to besuitable for space applications. Various design improvements to enhance the detectorperformance and to make the terrestrial electronics robust with respect to spaceenvironment, e.g. high radiation environment, are required. Recently, a series of feasibilityassessments showed that it is now feasible to develop a very low-mass, low-power and low-recurrent cost three-axis rate measurement sensor for space use based on terrestrial MEMStechnology. It has also been shown that there exists a large demand for such a unit in theworld space market, including telecom satellite applications. This paper describes the resultsof several recent ESA-funded market analyses and feasibility studies. Reliability andcharacterization testing of MEMS gyroscopes have also been completed. The paper alsogives the status of the recently initiated development of a European MEMS rate sensor forspace applications.
I. Introduction
icro-Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology progressed rapidly during the last decades. It consistsin the integration of mechanical elements, sensors, actuators, and electronics on a common silicon substratethrough micro fabrication techniques. A new degree of effective use of silicon area was achieved by implementingDeep Reactive Ion Etching (DRIE), combined with Silicon On Insulator (SOI) wafers. The DRIE process enablescompletely vertical cuts through the silicon wafer without limitations of silicon crystal orientation. As a result of this
ESA, Postbox 299, 2200 AG Noordwijk, The Netherlands. stephane.dussy@esa.int
SEA, Bristol Business Park, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1SU, United Kingdom. dick.durrant@sea.co.uk 
BAE Systems, Clittaford Road, Plymouth PL6 6DE, United Kingdom. tony.moy@baesystems.com
Alcatel Alenia Space, 100 boulevard du Midi, 06150 Cannes, France. bruno.celerier@space.alcatel.fr
AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference and Exhibit15 - 18 August 2005, San Francisco, California
AIAA 2005-6466
Copyright © 2005 by European Space Agency. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission.
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics2technology breakthrough, MEMS devices appeared more and more in many unrelated fields such as biology,microelectronics or communication, through a wide range of heterogeneous applications, such as filters, relays,optical switches, inductors, tunable capacitors or even projection display. However it is the application area of inertial sensors that has benefited the most from many of the technologies developed for the MEMS. Whereas theirmass and size have been drastically reduced, MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes continuously enhanced theirperformance.In the 90’s, the automotive industry first recognized the benefits of MEMS devices and first commercializedthem on cars, e.g. using MEMS accelerometers in car airbags. Other automotive applications such as vehicle chassisstabilization, safety systems, traction control systems, rollover detection and navigation systems, consolidated theincreasing need for reliable, low-cost angular rate sensors. Boosted by this industry, low-cost MEMS accelerometersand gyroscopes are now in large-volume production. They incorporate many functions and their enhancedperformance, combined with their inherent reliability, came to a stage where these devices present an undeniableinterest for a space use.Various techniques have been developed and manufactured to design silicon and quartz MEMS rate sensors:excitation and detection mechanisms rely either on piezoresistive, piezoelectric, capacitive, inductive or electrostaticmechanisms; vibrating beams, vibrating plates, tuning forks and vibrating shells have been deeply analyzed andtested in many research and development projects. Extensive literature
depicts the various techniques andmechanisms, and addresses their major advantages and drawbacks.As described in Fig. 1 for a vibrating shell configuration, the principle of most of the detectors relies on avibrating element (vibrating resonator exciting the carrier mode), which, in the presence of an applied rotation rate,is subjected to Coriolis acceleration and causes the vibration of a resonant response mode. By sensing the secondaryvibration magnitude, the applied rotation rate can be measured.
Figure 1. Excitation and detection principles for a vibrating shell
Until recently, MEMS gyroscopes exhibited performance in the class of rate-grade inertial sensors, i.e.characterized by a bias stability better than 0.5 deg/s. This performance is far sufficient for automotive applicationsbut remains not suited for space applications. Thanks to the continuous improvement in the micromachiningtechniques, it is now believed that MEMS gyroscopes will be capable of providing tactical or even inertial-gradeperformance, i.e. a bias stability better than 1 to 10 deg/h. Although the performance of these devices are far lowerthan that required for inertial navigation systems, MEMS gyros are promising for failure detection in large satellitesor for attitude propagation and rate determination in microsatellites, telecom satellites, planets landers and rovers.
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics3
II. MEMS gyroscopes development in Europe
A. European actors and related technologies
One of the most well-known space-qualified microgyroscopes, flying on Integral, Smart-1 and expected to fly onHerschel-Planck, is the Systron Donner Quartz Rate Sensor (QRS), relying on a quartz double tuning fork, withpiezoelectric excitation and detection. It is built by etching the structures from single-crystal quartz wafers QRS.ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) restrictions risk and limited performances of such a device,combined with the technical breakthrough in fabrication techniques with silicon (replacing the quartz), resulted inthe necessity of initiating the development of a European MEMS rate sensor.As detailed in Table 1, several European companies currently develop or manufacture terrestrial MEMS ratesensors, with various characteristics depending on the sensor structure (vibrating beams, vibrating plates, tuningforks and vibrating shells) and the excitation / detection mechanisms (piezoresistive, piezoelectric, capacitive,inductive or electrostatic).
Company Country Name Technology, mechanisms
BAE Systems UK SiRRS-01 All-silicon vibrating shell, inductive excitation and detection, biasrepeatability around 0.1 deg/sBosch Germany Poly-silicon tuning fork of vibrating plates, inductive excitation anddetectionEADS CRC Germany Tuning fork, with piezoelectric excitation and piezoresistive detectionHSG-IMIT Germany All-silicon vibrating plates, electrostatic excitation, capacitive detection,short term drift around 25 deg/hLitef Germany
CORS-2All-silicon tuning fork of vibrating plates, electrostatic excitation,capacitive detectionSagem SA France Star Two-axis, capacitive detectionSensoNor Norway SAR10 All-silicon vibrating plates, electrostatic excitation, capacitive detection,noise density around 0.013 deg/s/ 
HzThales France Gyrosil All-silicon, short term drift around 40 deg/h
Table 1. European MEMS rate sensor main manufacturers
Performances are provided as they appear in the sensors’ datasheet and are given to get a rough order of magnitude of the MEMS features. However, it is worth mentioning at this point that drift, bias stability, biasinstability, and thermal sensitivity are not addressed the same way by the various MEMS gyro manufacturers.Therefore, such performances cannot be compared as is, and require to be confirmed through characterizationtesting.
B. Reliability testing
Reliability testing has been performed on a small quantity of BAE Systems SiRRS-01
devices, under ESAcontract.
The batch of devices underwent a complete reliability testing campaign performed by CNES, includingthermal cycling, thermal shocks, thermal vacuum, vibration, shock, humidity testing. Between each test, basicperformance characterization allows detecting any anomaly, such as fracture or delaminating. As shown in Fig. 2,most of the initial bias and scale factor characterizations, performed by EADS Astrium SAS, exhibit similar resultsas the ones predicted in SiRRS-01 datasheet, e.g. for bias and scale factor thermal sensitivity.

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