STP-H5-SpaceCube - Mini (STP-H5 Space Cube - Mini) - 12.15.16
The International Space Station hosts hundreds of scientific experiments, but much of the computation and analysis for these experiments is done on the ground, where scientists have access to more powerful computers. The STP-H5 SpaceCube - Mini is a miniaturized version of a hybrid computer processor that provides a 10- to 100-fold improvement in on-board computing power while lowering power consumption and cost. The processor can be used in CubeSats, SmallSats and other applications, reducing the need for transferring large amounts of data to Earth for processing. Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending Experiment Details
Tom Flatley, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Technology Demonstration Office (TDO)
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration
ISS Expedition Duration
September 2016 - February 2017; March 2017 - September 2017; -
SpaceCube on STS-125 (Hubble Servicing Mission), SpaceCube on MISSE 7/8, SpaceCube 1.0 and 2.0 on STP-H4.
- This research provides flight validation of the STP-H5 SpaceCube - Mini and advanced on-board processing capabilities for Earth Science/atmospheric chemistry. These validated capabilities increase the TRL of these technologies from TRL 6 to TRL 8 and reduce the programmatic risk of using these technologies on future missions.
- Future Earth Science, Space Science, Exploration and Satellite Servicing missions are able to implement this enabling computing technology to perform complex on-board functions that are previously limited to ground based systems, such as on-board product generation, data reduction, calibration, classification, event/feature detection, data mining and real-time autonomous operations.
SpaceCube is a family of Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) based on-board science data processing systems developed at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). The goal of the SpaceCube program is to provide 10x to 100x improvements in on-board computing power while lowering relative power consumption and cost. SpaceCube is based on the Xilinx Virtex family of FPGA processors, which include CPU, FPGA and DSP resources. These processing elements are leveraged to produce a hybrid science data processing platform that accelerates the execution of science data processing algorithms by distributing computational functions among the elements, allowing each type of processor to do “what it’s good at”. This approach enables the implementation of complex on-board functions that were previously limited to ground based systems, such as on-board product generation, data reduction, calibration, classification, event/feature detection, data mining and real-time autonomous operations. The system also is fully reconfigurable in flight (both software and FPGA logic), through either ground commanding or autonomously in response to detected events/features in the instrument data stream. The SpaceCube 1.0 system first flew as part of the Relative Navigation Sensors (RNS) experiment during Hubble Servicing Mission 4 in May 2009. The second SpaceCube 1.0 experiment is currently flying as part of the Naval Research Lab (NRL) Materials on the International Space Station Experiment 7 (MISSE7) payload that was installed on the ISS in November 2009. The purpose of the MISSE7 SpaceCube experiment is to test and validate our “Radiation Hardened By Software (RHBS)” upset mitigation techniques. The RHBS strategy involves a combination of traditional “memory scrubber” functions and a “program execution error detection and correction” software architecture that runs in the background to find and fix single and multi-bit radiation induced upsets in the FPGA. The goal of RHBS is to enable the reliable use of commercial rad-tolerant processing elements in space and to “asymptotically approach” the reliability of true rad-hard systems while providing “order of magnitude” improvements in computing power. The original SpaceCube 1.0 system was based on Xilinx Virtex 4 FPGA technology, and new systems are currently being developed (SpaceCube 2.0 and SpaceCube - Mini) using Xilinx Virtex 5 FPGA technology. The ISS SpaceCube Experiment 2.0 (ISE 2.0) experiment is currently flying as part of STP-H4 and continues this research on the version 2.0 system, in addition to SpaceCube serving as the on-board instrument data processor for a Heliophysics experiment measuring gamma ray bursts from lightning storms. STP-H5 experiment validates the miniaturized version of the SpaceCube 2.0 (SpaceCube - Mini) plus real-time on-board Earth Science product generation algorithms for atmospheric methane.
With the SpaceCube - Mini processor, future space missions are able to complete complex computer tasks that were previously limited to ground-based computers, including calibration, data mining and real-time autonomous operations. Completing these tasks on board saves time and reduce costs related to transferring large amounts of data to the ground.
The SpaceCube - Mini processor enables future small-satellite missions that benefit people on Earth, including satellites studying climate change, natural disasters, weather, land use and ecosystem changes.
Operational Requirements and Protocols
Decadal Survey Recommendations
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STP-H5-SpaceCube - Mini