Present scientific space instruments generate a high amount of raw data while deep-space missions only have a very limited telemetry rate. Because the computation of the scientific relevant parameters is usually accompanied with the reduction of the data, the processing is desired to be carried out already on-board. To accomplish this, the following paper presents a flexible image processing framework which makes use of a heterogeneous data processing module consisting of a space-grade General Purpose Processor (GPP) as well as two dynamically reconfigurable Field-Programmable Gate Arrays used for hardware acceleration. The flexibility and capabilities of the presented framework are proven by means of three exemplary processing tasks of the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) on-board Solar Orbiter.
The extension of on-board data processing capabilities is an attractive option to reduce telemetry for scientific instruments on deep space missions. The challenges that this presents, however, require a comprehensive software system, which operates on the limited resources a data processing unit in space allows. We implemented such a system for the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) on-board the Solar Orbiter (SO) spacecraft. It ensures autonomous operation to handle long command-response times, easy changing of the processes after new lessons have been learned and meticulous book-keeping of all operations to ensure scientific accuracy. This contribution presents the requirements and main aspects of the software implementation, followed by an example of a task implemented in the software frame, and results from running it on SO/PHI. The presented example shows that the different parts of the software framework work well together, and that the system processes data as we expect. The flexibility of the framework makes it possible to use it as a baseline for future applications with similar needs and limitations as SO/PHI.
Remote sensing instruments on today's space missions deliver a high amount of data which is typically evaluated on ground. Especially for deep space missions the telemetry downlink is very limited which creates the need for the scientific evaluation and thereby a reduction of data volume already on-board the spacecraft. A demanding example is the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI) instrument on Solar Orbiter. To enable on-board offline processing for data reduction, the instrument has to be equipped with a high capacity memory module. The module is based on non-volatile NAND-Flash technology, which requires more advanced operation than volatile DRAM. Unlike classical mass memories, the module is integrated into the instrument and allows readback of data for processing. The architecture and safe operation of such kind of memory module is described in the following paper.