Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 (Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7) - 01.18.18

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Radiation can introduce computer errors by interfering with the operation of electronic computer components. This is a problem for computers operating in the high-radiation environment of space. The Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 investigation validates Dependable Multiprocessing (DM), a new type of computer software system that uses several commercially available processors working together to increase computing speed and reduce computing errors in a space environment. The investigation demonstrates that the DM technology can work in the radiation environment of space, enabling its use on future space missions.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by John Samson, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
John Samson, Ph.D., Honeywell, Clearwater, FL, United States

Benjamin Malphrus, Ph.D., Morehead State University, Morehead, KY, United States

Honeywell Aerospace, FL, United States
Morehead State University, Morehead, KY, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Space Exploration, Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2016 - September 2017

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 flight experiment is the demonstration of an enabling technology for a wide variety of future science experiments and missions.
  • Dependable Multiprocessing (DM) technology can help overcome many of the limitations faced by science experiments today.
  • In terms of physical science, ground-based radiation testing of commercial off the shelf (COTS) components has shown that many components can survive and operate in space.
  • The goal of DM technology is to harness the processing power of COTS technology to benefit science.
  • The hypothesis is that software-based enhanced radiation tolerance can allow clusters of high performance COTS processors to achieve high availability and high computational correctness in a space environment.


Dependable Multiprocessor (DM) technology was developed by Honeywell for NASA to increase the amount of science and autonomy processing for space missions by demonstrating the ability to fly clusters of high performance commercial off the shelf (COTS) processors in space. Increasing the amount of science means using the DM computer to help scientists do things better and/or faster. Autonomy means the DM computer can do things, including making decisions, on its own without any help from a human. Commercial off the shelf means a computer component you can buy on the Internet or at a local electronics store, e.g., Radio Shack or Best Buy. Nothing special is done to allow the computer components to fly in the space environment. This makes the components a lot less expensive to buy, but also requires special software, i.e., a computer program to allow them to operate successfully in space. Cluster means using multiple computers working together to do a job better or faster than a single computer. The word cluster is significant because others have flown and are flying COTS components in space, but these are mostly single computer applications. One of the things that makes DM technology unique is that it is dealing with clusters of high performance COTS processors to achieve higher throughput, i.e., works faster, and/or lower latency, with less delay, through parallel processing, using multiple computers at the same time. The goal of the DM project was to achieve high availability and high computational correctness with software-enhanced radiation tolerance. The space environment is full of radiation, particles and energy waves from many sources in the universe, including the Sun. Radiation makes it very difficult for computers to operate correctly in space. Computers need software help to operate correctly. DM technology provides that software help. High availability means always on-line and ready to go work to help the scientists. High computational correctness mean zero or very few arithmetic or logic errors. This capability was to be done with hardware, platform, and application agnostic middleware, the Dependable Multiprocessor Middleware (DMM) that exhibited low overhead, is scalable, is easy to use, and is applicable to a wide variety of missions and applications in different environments. Agnostic is a big word that means not committed or independent of the particular computer or software being used. Middleware is a layer of software that resides between the application, the job you want to do, and the operating system, which works closely with the computer hardware to make the computer work correctly. DM is software technology. DM was designed not to be a one-time solution, but to be able to incorporate new computer hardware and new computer software as they become available. DM technology achieved Technology Level 6 (TRL6) on the NASA NMP ST8 program, which demonstrated all of the features identified and demonstrated DM system-level operation in a ground-based radiation environment. Honeywell and Morehead State University reduced the size, weight, power, and cost of DM technology to fit in a CubeSat-size form factor.
The primary experiment of Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 is a system-level radiation experiment to verify DM operation in a space environment, thereby achieving TRL7 validation for DM technology. This experiment runs from power-up until the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 system is commanded to switch to one of the other experiments. The secondary experiment is a capabilities experiment to demonstrate all of the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 operating modes in a space environment. Once commanded to run, this experiment runs until the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 system is commanded to switch to one of the other experiments. The tertiary experiment is an image capture and image/data compression experiment to demonstrate ground-commanded programmable image compression for downlink bandwidth reduction of science data. Once commanded to run, this experiment runs until the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 system is commanded to switch to one of the other experiments. State of health (SOH) and experiment telemetry data is continually downlinked to the ground. Depending on analysis of the downlink SOH and experiment data telemetry, if the telemetry data indicates the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 payload processor is in a state from which it can’t recover on its own, it may be necessary to issue contingency commands to the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 flight experiment. These contingency commands include commands to the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 payload processor to reset a node or to restart an experiment, and commands to the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 Command & Data Handler (C&DH) to cycle power to a specific Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 payload processor node or to cycle power to the entire Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 payload processor.

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Space Applications
Space is full of radiation, which presents a problem for computer processors on spacecraft and satellites. Dependable Multiprocessor technology can reduce radiation-caused computer errors, enabling new types of science experiments and exploration missions on small satellites and large spacecraft. The technology allows computers to work more independently and complete processing tasks in space, rather than transmitting it back to Earth. The investigation’s main goal is to demonstrate that DM technology works in space. Additional tests capture images and compress the files into smaller sizes so they can be downlinked to Earth.

Earth Applications
Any mission or application that requires high-performance computing can benefit from Dependable Multiprocessing technology. The ability to process data on board a small computer, rather than transmitting it elsewhere for analysis, would benefit any conceivable application, from environmental monitoring to agricultural production to search and rescue efforts. The technology also improves Earth monitoring and remote sensing efforts, such as forest fire detection, earthquake monitoring, and tsunami detection and early warning systems.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

As an autonomous free running experiment, the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 experiment does not entail or require daily commanding. If everything works perfectly, as designed, the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 payload developers expect to issue only three uplink command during the entire 6-month duration of the flight experiment. The anticipated commands are: 1) switch to the secondary flight experiment (The primary experiment starts running as soon as the system is powered up.), 2) switch to the tertiary flight experiment, and 3) switch back to the primary flight experiment for the remainder of the active Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 experiment time.
Because of the nature of the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 flight experiment, the downlink data must be sent to the ground and forwarded to the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 Payload Operators as quickly as possible for analysis and possible recovery action.
The Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 flight experiment has a real-time requirement. The Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 flight experiment measures system availability. The Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 flight experiment cannot afford to lose a whole day of operation because the payload operators didn’t know the system had a problem: 1) because this makes the calculation of true system availability more difficult, and 2) the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 flight experiment needs the maximum up-time of the experiment to maximize the number of possible radiation-induced events experienced during the course of the active experiment period to have a “statistically-significant” experiment. The International Space Station (ISS) radiation environment is very benign, i.e., there are not that many events that the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7flight experiment can afford to lose any active experiment time on-orbit. For the experiment, downlink delays are part of system recovery time which impacts availability.
The third Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 experiment, the camera experiment, has no critical identified scientific objective. As such, it can run at almost any time during the 6-month experiment period. However, it may be desirable to have the Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 flight experiment camera capture images of an unplanned “event of opportunity,” e.g., an erupting volcano, an unusual oceanic event (a tsunami), ISS cargo vehicle docking, ISS CubeSat deployment, etc. If such an “event of opportunity” arises, it may be desirable to alter the nominal Honeywell-Morehead-DM-7 flight experiment schedule to take advantage of the opportunity by activating the camera experiment and/or changing the image compression ratio.
NanoRacks External Platform (NREP) payloads are delivered to the ISS in individual stowage bags. A crew member transfers the payloads from the visiting vehicle and unpacks them. Once unpacked and inspected for damage, each payload is mounted onto their appropriate position on the NREP baseplate and the final installation of the plate is made onto the main facility. The NREP is then installed on the slide table where it is put out of the JEM airlock and grappled by the JEM Remote Manipulating System (JRMS). The JRMS moves the NREP to its position on the ISS structure where it remains for the nominal 6-month mission timeline.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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Small, light-weight, low-power, low-cost, high-performance computer for space applications – an eight (8) processor Dependable Multiprocessor (DM) payload processing cluster that can fit in the palm of your hand and can be mailed across the country for the price of a few 1st class postage stamps (75 mm x 75mm x 35 mm, ~ 120 grams) Image courtesy of Honeywell and Morehead State University.

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NanoRacks-DM flight experiment configuration showing small cluster of Gumstix™ computer modules, the DM7 Command & Data Handler (C&DH) host, the NREP host, the ISS/NREP space/ground communication infrastructure, and the DM ground operations facility. Image courtesy of Honeywell and Morehead State University.

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NanoRacks External Platform, host for the NanoRacks-DM flight experiment. Image courtesy of NanoRacks, Honeywell, and Morehead State University.

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Deployed location for the NanoRacks-DM flight experiment. Image courtesy of NASA, Honeywell, and Morehead State University.

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Examples of the optional camera views for the NanoRacks-DM flight experiment. Image courtesy of NanoRacks, Honeywell, and Morehead State University.

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