DLR Utilizes Frontgrade's Dual-Core Processors in Eu:CROPIS Satellite and Next Generation Payload Demonstrator

SPACE TECH EXPO EUROPE, Bremen, GERMANY Cobham Gaisler and DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; also referred to as German Aerospace Center) announced today that Cobham’s GR712RC Dual-Core LEON3FT Processor has been successfully used to control the Eu:CROPIS (Euglena Combined Regenerative Organic Food Production in Space) satellite for more than 350 days in orbit. In addition, the GR712RC is also used in DLR’s SCalable On-BoaRd Computing Experiment (SCORE) payload.

“We have been working closely with DLR on multiple missions over the years, inserting LEON3FT technology in both their spacecraft platforms and their experiments. The Eu:CROPIS mission is very interesting since it uses the GR712RC processor in both platform and payload, which is a first,” said Sandi Habinc, General Manager, Cobham Gaisler.

These latest initiatives continue a longstanding collaboration between DLR and Cobham. The GR712RC processor was first launched on December, 2014 as part of the Hayabusa-2 missions on DLR’s Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout probe (MASCOT) that successfully completed its mission at the end of 2018. The GR712RC processor is part of the MASCOT on-board computer which was developed by Cobham Gaisler.

DLR’s Eu:CROPIS Earth-orbiting mini-satellite is studying the impact of low gravity and radiation on organisms in support of future long-duration manned space missions (life sciences). Launched last December from the USA, the Eu:CROPIS satellite simulates the low gravity conditions of the Moon and Mars by harnessing the centrifugal force produced by its spin stabilization. It is the first spacecraft to do so over a long duration, now in space for almost one year and has proven to be a valuable resource for scientists.

All the Command and Data Handling (CDH) functionality of Eu:CROPIS satellite has been integrated into a single warm-redundant unit. This CDH unit consists of a central, redundant on-board computer, which provides interfaces to sensors, actuators, communication equipment, the power control and distribution unit, and the payloads. It is composed of several subunits with dedicated functionality, representing an on-board computer (OBC). At its core are the CPU modules (CPM), based on the radiation-hardened GR712RC Dual-Core LEON3FT processor and which also contain different memories, the Interface Modules (IFM) which extend the CPM’s functionality with external interfaces. 

"The Command and Data Handling (CDH) unit utilizing the GR712RC processor is one of the core elements of the Eu:CROPIS compact satellite platform. We are very pleased with its reliability and performance, as it is the key element for handling data on-board the spacecraft and thus enables this unique space mission with its biological-, radiation-, and technological experiments. The system is performing nominally for almost one year now providing simulated gravitational environments equivalent to Mars and Moon gravity”, said Olaf Eßmann, Eu:CROPIS project management, DLR.

The SCalable On-BoaRd Computing Experiment (SCORE) is a technology demonstrator payload for next generation on-board computing in hardware and software and has been developed by the DLR Institute of Space Systems. The SCORE computer hardware is also based on the GR712RC processor. 

“The GR712RC processor provides a dependable base for SCORE and allowed us to reuse parts of the  software from our main on-board computer. So far, SCORE is successfully collecting data on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) memory in-orbit performance and has supported the Eu:CROPIS mission by collecting images from 3 exterior cameras”, said Carl Treudler, SCORE project manager, DLR.

PowerCell, a payload contribution from NASA, has been successfully activated and completed under Lunar and Martian gravity conditions. PowerCell investigates the influence of radiation and low gravity on bacteria which produce organic compounds that could be utilized on long-duration missions. The payload is managed by Ames Research Center and leverages experience gained from prior flight experiments aboard multiple small- satellite space biology missions, the Space Shuttle, and the International Space Station.

RAMIS (Radiation Measurement in Space), a payload contribution by DLR, provides data on the radiation dose experienced by the organic payload. Additionally, it measures the intensity of radiation in the Van Allen radiation belts as the satellite moves through them. 

“First results from the RAMIS detector on the exterior of the spacecraft clearly show the 'breathing' of the outer radiation belts – that is, the daily variation of the particle fluxes of the electrons within the belts – as well as the size of the South Atlantic Anomaly," said Thomas Berger, radiation researcher, DLR. 

Cobham’s processor and software products are on display this week at Stand E40 at Space Tech Expo Europe. 

About Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions

Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions (CAES), the U.S. subsidiary of Cobham plc operating under a Special Security Agreement (SSA) with the US Department of Defense, provides a number of mission-critical and specialized solutions for harsh environments. Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions supplies defense, aerospace, security, medical and industrial markets with critical solutions for communication on land, at sea, and in the air and space, by moving data through off-the-shelf and customized products and subsystems including RF, microwave, and high reliability microelectronics, antenna apertures and motion control solutions. 

 About Cobham AES

Cobham AES offers an innovative range of technologies and services to solve challenging problems in commercial, defense and security markets, from deep space to the depths of the ocean. 

We employ around 10,000 people primarily in the USA, UK, Europe and Australia, and have customers and partners in over 100 countries, with market leading positions in: wireless, audio, video and data communications, including satellite communications; defence electronics; air-to-air refueling; aviation services; life support and mission equipment. www.caes.com

About DLR

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is the national aeronautics and space research centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its extensive research and development work in aeronautics, space, energy, transport, security and digitalisation is integrated into national and international cooperative ventures. 

DLR is also responsible for the planning and implementation of Germany’s space activities on behalf of the federal government. DLR is also the umbrella organisation for one of Germany's largest project management agencies.