Frontgrade Products Enable ESA's JUICE Mission

Frontgrade Technologies, a leading provider of high-reliability computer systems for space applications, announces that its products will be used in the upcoming JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) mission. The mission, led by the European Space Agency (ESA), will investigate the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, and its icy moons, in search of possible habitable environments and signs of life.

"Our mission to explore Jupiter and its icy moons demands sophisticated scientific instruments, each equipped with its own Digital Processing Unit (DPU),” said Giuseppe Sarri, JUICE Project Manager at ESA. “To streamline the hardware design and maximize efficiency, we have developed a common, re-usable reference design for the DPUs based on lessons learned from previous missions. Following rigorous evaluation, we selected the GR712RC microprocessor for the job. Its high radiation tolerance, low power consumption, and versatile range of interfaces made it an ideal fit for our needs. As a result, seven out of the ten JUICE science instruments use the common DPU based on the GR712RC."

The rad-hard GR712RC is a dual-core LEON3FT microprocessor. It provides a high level of processing performance while consuming minimal power, hitting SWaP-C and reliability requirements for JUICE. The DPU reference design, developed by Frontgrade Gaisler in Sweden, includes many other Frontgrade rad-hard memory components, including the UT8R4M39 family of SRAMs, the UT8SDMW64M48 SDRAM and both the UT8MR2M8 2MB and UT8MR8M8 8MB MRAMs. Other Frontgrade rad-hard components utilized are the UT54LVDS031/032 ultra-low power LVDS driver/receivers transceivers, the UT7R995 RADCLOCK and various MSI logic devices, including the UT54ACS138 Decoder/Demux and UT54ACS162245S Multipurpose Transceiver.

On the software side, Frontgrade Gaisler's GRBOOT flight-quality bootloader has been selected for use in the DPU. The bootloader is responsible for initialization, self-test and application loading, making it a critical software element for the instruments' operation.

One crucial instrument implementing the common DPU reference design is the Radio and Plasma Wave Investigation (RPWI) which will investigate the electromagnetic interactions between Jupiter’s magnetosphere and the ionospheres of the icy Galilean moons. The instrument development has been led from the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) in Uppsala.

"The RPWI instrument has dual redundant Digital Processing Units, which in turn contain the highly reliable GR712RC" said Dr. Jan Bergman, Scientist and Instrument manager for RPWI. "As one of the early adopters of this processor, we are pleased to report that it has proven to be an excellent choice for managing and controlling the other three science electronics boards in RPWI.”

Frontgrade Gaisler's products are also used in other areas of the JUICE spacecraft, including the Command and Data Management Unit (CDMU). The GR718B SpaceWire router is used in the mass memory (SSMM) allowing for high-speed data transfer and storage. The CDMU is also powered by LEON processor technology.

"We are thrilled that so many of our products have been selected to be part of the JUICE mission," said Sandi Habinc, General Manager of Frontgrade Gaisler. "We take great pride in our role in advancing space exploration and look forward to continuing to provide reliable and efficient solutions for future scientific missions. The DPU reference design is now available to all our customers and forms a highly competitive computing solution for both payload and platform applications."


About Frontgrade

Frontgrade Technologies is the leading provider of high-reliability (hi-rel), radiation-hardened (rad-hard) solutions for defense, intelligence, commercial, and civil applications. The Company has a complementary and integrated suite of mission-critical electronics. Key products include rad-hard components, mission processing subsystems, custom ASICs, motion control systems, waveguides, antennas, power management solutions, as well as cabling to help you meet your mission critical needs. For more information, visit