Space Applications

Space applications are important for system engineering development. As history shows, more often than not, novel and high-end technologies are first developed for space applications but then get adopted later for the military, industrial and consumer application domains. As such, working on or interacting with space-related research implies staying in the forefront of cutting-edge research.

Because of radiations, the space environment is known to be harsh to electronic devices. As a result, fault tolerance is a major concern in space applications. Fault tolerance requires a system or device to survive, adapt, and continue to work despite being affected by faults. In general, researches in this field focus on two main areas: soft error mitigation, which involves the ability to detect and correct temporary errors, and permanent damage mitigation, which involves mechanisms deployed to survive in the presence of permanent damages to parts of an electronic chip.

The group has developed several technologies (software, hardware, and mixed) that apply directly to or can be adapted for space applications. The group has various technologies that are in advanced phase, while others are in the pipeline. One of the major technologies is the Reliable Real-Time Reconfigurable Operating System (R3TOS), which is an operating system developed for the reliable management circuits on FPGAs. The usefulness of R3TOS has been demonstrated by empirical applications, for example, we implemented an R3TOS-based inverter controller of a real-world railway traction system that is proven to recover from most of the errors injected without requiring any human intervention.

In the past, we also developed the Reconfigurable Instruction Cell Array (RICA), which is an ultra-low-power reconfigurable processor that can fit into various onboard systems and can save on the power while preserving high performance and flexibility.

The group has also developed a reconfigurable antenna that is able to steer and direct the radiation beam saving an enormous amount of power. Space applications and devices are generally required to be of low power. As such, the antenna could lead to a longer mission life by conserving power.

Fault tolerance is one of the main topics in the space field. The group has developed and continuously developing algorithms and architectures that can survive in space with high reliability.

It is worth mentioning that the group benefits from continued collaboration and interaction with NASA and ESA on various projects (e.g. ESPACENET), meetings and conferences (NASA/ESA Adaptive Hardware and Systems international conference - organized annually by our group, in 2007 the conference took place in Edinburgh and the 2018 edition is also taking place in Edinburgh).

Selected Publications

A. Adetomi, G. Enemali, X. Iturbe, D. Keymeulen and T. Arslan, ‘R3TOS-Based Integrated Modular Space Avionics for On-Board Real-Time Data Processing’, in 2018 NASA/ESA Conference on Adaptive Hardware and Systems (AHS), 2018. pp 1-8. DOI: 10.1109/AHS.2018.8541369

X. Iturbe, A. Ebrahim, K. Benkrid, C. Hong, T. Arslan, J. Perez, D. Keymeulen, and D. Santambrogio, ‘R3TOS-Based Autonomous Fault-Tolerant Systems’, IEEE Micro, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. 20–30, Nov. 2014. DOI: 10.1109/MM.2014.58

X. Iturbe, K. Benkrid , C. Hong, A. Ebrahim, R. Torego, I. Martinez, T. Arslan, and J. Perez, ‘R3TOS: A Novel Reliable Reconfigurable Real-Time Operating System for Highly Adaptive, Efficient, and Dependable Computing on FPGAs’, IEEE Trans. Comput., vol. 62, no. 8, pp. 1542–1556, Aug. 2013. DOI: 10.1109/TC.2013.79

Space Applications