OPS-SAT: How will commercial FPGAs cope in space?

An in-orbit experiment with COTS FPGAs in space

FPGAs offer high processing throughput at low power consumption and flexibility through reconfiguration which makes them widely-used devices in embedded systems with high processing demand today. However, SRAM-based FPGAs are particularly susceptible to the radiation effects in space applications because single event effects (SEEs) in the configuration memory can cause a reconfiguration of the device and hence an undesired modification of the circuit.

I am part of a team of experimenters who design payload applications on-board the OPS-SAT satellite. OPS-SAT is a nano-satellite which is devoted to demonstrating novel mission concepts and technologies. The OPS-SAT mission is led by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is set to launch in 2017. OPS-SAT flies powerful COTS system-on-chip modules including SRAM-based reconfigurable logic. The hardware is not space qualified and hence our experiment setup focuses on collecting information about failure rates and novel throughput-, power-, and availability-efficient mitigation techniques.

If you have questions / are interested, please contact me or read this blog.