To Mars & Beyond

International space organizations, telecommunications companies, and spacecraft prime contractors around the globe have placed their trust in Adcole to deliver the most accurate devices with the highest reliability for the harsh environment of space. Since the early 1960s, Adcole Sun Sensors have played a vital role in hundreds of successful space missions. Adcole’s mission-critical sun sensors are used as part of the attitude control system for various types of spacecraft as well as for instrument pointing, solar array pointing, and safe mode/sun acquisition systems.


A Rich Flight Heritage


Adcole Sun Sensors are deployed on every GPS satellite orbiting the earth and in a number of high-profile deep-space explorations such as the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn, the Messenger spacecraft orbiting Mercury, the New Horizons spacecraft which passed Pluto in July 2015, and the Juno spacecraft en route to Jupiter. Adcole Sun Sensors have also flown on many Mars missions including Maven, Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity Rover), Mars Exploration Rover (Spirit & Opportunity Rovers), Mars Pathfinder, and Mars Global Surveyor. Adcole Sun Sensors can also be found on board the International Space Station.


Adcole Sun Sensors are also on nearly every Solar Observational spacecraft, including the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), Solar X-ray Imager (SXI), Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), SORCE, IRIS, STEREO, and TRACE. Some of these sensors provide sun angle resolution finer than one arcsecond.


Customized for Unique Requirements


Adcole Sun Sensors are customized to meet the unique requirements of each mission including:

  • Field of View
  • Accuracy
  • Power
    • Standard 28 V and 70 V power busses available; any other input voltage range easily implemented
  • Data Interfaces
    • MIL STD 1553, RS-422, Custom UART, and Single-Ended Serial, and Parallel interfaces are available
  • Unique Environmental / Operational Requirements


With a Class 100,000 Clean Room, three state of the art solar simulators, thermal vacuum and thermal cycling chambers, Adcole’s one-of-a-kind manufacturing facility is uniquely equipped to design and manufacture precision sun sensors for today’s missions as well as the next generation of spacecraft.