RADARSAT-2 to use Space Electronics board for SAR

Engineers at Astrium in Portsmouth, England are using single-board computers from Space Electronics for a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) system aboard the Canadian Space Agency satellite, RADARSAT-2.

By John McHale

SAN DIEGO — Engineers at Astrium in Portsmouth, England are using single-board computers from Space Electronics for a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) system aboard the Canadian Space Agency satellite, RADARSAT-2.

Space Electronics engineers in San Diego are providing their modular-architectured single-board computers for space (MASS) for Astrium's Common Radar Elements (CORE) program. CORE's application areas in addition to RADARSAT-2, include radar and front-end systems, antennas, data links, and image processing.

Astrium's first application of a MASS Intel 486 is in a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) system for RADARSAT-2. The satellite's SAR system delivers high-resolution multi-polarized imagery to reception sites around the world, Space Electronics officials say.

The Space Electronics device has a 6U form factor, uses 3.3-volt parts for power utilization, and runs the VxWorks real-time operating system from Wind River Systems in Alameda, Calif.

The MASS boards are also less expensive than similar products from Honeywell Space Systems in Clearwater, Fla., and BAE Systems — formerly Lockheed Martin — in Manasas, Va., says Paul Friedman, single-board-computer product manager at Space Electronics.

The MASS technique permits designers to pick and choose environmental hardness, processor modules, and PMCs to satisfy their requirements, company officials claim. Space Electronics officials say that the existence of the company's EM/PMC library translates into a faster lead time for MASS boards than typically offered by traditional, specialty space board manufacturers.

The MASS board design links the microprocessor, running at 20 to 50 MIPS, to an onboard PCI local bus via a bridge implemented in a radiation hardened field programmable gate array or application specific integrated circuit. Boards used in the laboratory for application development use industry standard PCI Mezzanine Cards (PMC) for I/O. To insure environmental specifications can be met, logic from the PMC is transferred to the space-flight board, Space Electronics officials say.

Space Electronics engineers refer to this logic as a Virtual PMC (VPMC) because it mimics the original PMC. VPMCs include mass storage memory and traditional off-board I/O, such as MIL-STD-1553, serial, parallel, analog, and Ethernet, and can interface to the designer's choice of CompactPCI bus or VME bus, Space Electronics officials say.

RADARSAT-2, funded by the Canadian Space Agency and MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, will be able to generate imaging at spatial resolutions ranging from 3 to 100 meters with swath widths ranging from 20 to 500 kilometers, Space Electronics officials say.

Scheduled for launch in 2003, RADARSAT-2 will provide data for agriculture, surveillance, mapping, coastal and ocean processes, forestry, natural resources, environmental monitoring, and natural disaster mitigation and response.

Astrium is a joint venture owned 75 percent by the European Aeronautic, Defense and Space Co., better known as EADS, and 25 percent by BAE SYSTEMS. The company was formed in May 2000 through the merger of Matra Marconi Space and the space division of DaimlerChrysler Aerospace. Astrium is managed from operational headquarters in Paris, France and Munich, Germany.

For more information on the MASS boards from Space Electronics contact the company by phone at 858-503-3300, by fax at 858-503-3301, by email at info@spaceelectronics.com, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.spaceelectronics.com.

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