First Multicore Implementation for Spacecraft On-Board Image Compression

Our team from AROBS Engineering worked on designing, deploying, and validating an optimized multicore implementation for onboard image compression for the European Space Agency (ESA). The project has had a live commercial presence in space for over one year as part of the UNIBAP Cloud-on-Space constellation of commercial satellites.

Our Expertise

We understand the challenges and particularities of our customers from the aerospace industry. With our help, they accelerated their R&D cycles and brought innovative products to the market.

multicore implementation

The Client

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its goal is to facilitate Europe’s evolution of space capabilities and ensure that space investment continues to benefit the citizens of Europe and the rest of the world.

ESA’s programs aim to learn more about Earth and its immediate space environment, the Solar System, and the Universe. Their expertise also includes satellite-based technologies and services.

The Challenge

Multicore hardware platforms power onboard spacecraft software, allowing faster and more efficient data processing. Space software must be optimized to take advantage of high-performing multicore architectures and lower-level platforms like RTOS (Real Time Operating Systems).

A special expert focus was required to show that the multicore platform and optimized algorithms that have been ported and tested by us on the major Space HW platforms have indeed followed all the high-quality requirements from ESA’s ECSS standards for onboard critical SW development.

Multispectral and hyperspectral imaging equipment are increasingly used in space missions. It increases the amount of data collected and transmitted to the ground. This ESA project had two objectives: to develop an optimized multicore implementation for the compression algorithm for multispectral or hyperspectral images and to create a benchmark to compare and measure the performance of the validated implementation.

The Project used 17 Groups of Satellite Images:

multicore implementation

The Solution

Our goal was to create, port, and validate the first space-ready multicore platform and software platform optimized for onboard image compression.

We were the prime contractor for this Project, which was implemented under an ESA program. Our design included a fully optimized multicore implementation and a benchmark of the validated performance.

Steps followed during implementation:

  • We analyzed all multicore hardware and available software platforms to determine the best configuration.
  • Optimization of multicore design and implementation of lossless compression algorithm (according to ESA Draft Recommended Standard CCSDS123.0-R).
  • Validation and porting of the optimized implementation on multiple multicore hardware platforms:
    • A standard x86 64-bit PC architecture for reference
    • LEON4 and Freescale P4080, using two space-proven operating systems, PikeOS and RTEMS
  • A test framework was designed to validate and benchmark the three setups.

The Benefits

ESA benefited from our strong reputation and extensive expertise in embedded software, real-time operating systems, multicore support, and implementation throughout the Project.

The optimal design was based on space-ready operating systems (PikeOS, RTEMS) and multicore hardware platforms (Freescale P4080 and LEON4). It was also integrated with the existing spacecraft software framework. The benchmark of the validated implementation had great results, confirming the high value of using multicore technologies for onboard space software.

Following our Project, ESA had a practical demonstration and comparative analysis of the advantages of optimizing and porting strategic space implementations to multicore platforms.

ESA can also use this information to understand and predict the behavior of other spacecraft software porting onto multicore architectures in future missions. This opens the door for multicore space technologies and promises a bright future.

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