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Fault-Tolerant Satellite Computing with Modern Semiconductors

dinsdag 17 december 2019
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


Miniaturized satellites enable a variety space missions which were in the past infeasible, impractical or uneconomical with traditionally-designed heavier spacecraft. Especially CubeSats can be launched and manufactured rapidly at low cost from commercial components, even in academic environments.
However, due to their low reliability and brief lifetime, they are usually not considered suitable for life- and safety-critical services, complex multi-phased solar-system-exploration missions, and missions with a longer duration.

Commercial electronics are key to satellite miniaturization, but also responsible for their low reliability: until 2019, there existed no reliable or fault-tolerant computer architectures suitable for very small satellites. To overcome this deficit, a novel on-board-computer architecture is described in this thesis. Robustness is assured without resorting to radiation hardening, but through software measures implemented within a robust-by-design multiprocessor-system-on-chip. This fault-tolerant architecture is component-wise simple and can dynamically adapt to changing performance requirements throughout a mission. It can support graceful aging by exploiting FPGA-reconfiguration and mixed-criticality.

Experimentally, we achieve 1.94W power consumption at 300Mhz with a Xilinx Kintex Ultrascale+ proof-of-concept, which is well within the powerbudget range of current 2U CubeSats. To our knowledge, this is the first COTS-based, reproducible on-board-computer architecture that can offer strong fault coverage even for small CubeSats.

Lees de volledige samenvatting (pdf)


  • Prof.dr. A. Plaat


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Maarten Muns, adviseur wetenschapscommunicatie Universiteit Leiden
071 527 3282

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