An international team of leading space technology developers is preparing to deliver an end-to-end demonstration of the next generation of high-speed data chain technologies to future-proof satellites used for Earth observation and telecommunications.

With backing from the Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme, Hi-SIDE – a group of world-leading experts in satellite technology including individuals from Airbus – have been collaborating to develop a suite of integrated technologies for the high-speed management, processing, and transfer of large quantities of satellite data, such as the data collected by Earth Observation satellites.

Data chain performance

To date, the project has delivered substantial advances in the performance of individual components of the data chain.

These include the development of:

• a high-performance, high-reliability and high-availability network to interconnect the data chain elements;
• a modular data compression system capable of processing the very high instrument data rates foreseen for future Earth Observation missions;
• a high performance very versatile payload processing unit that can be programmed on the fly;
• a high-rate RF downlink transmitter for high-speed-data transmission from Earth Observation or data relay satellites to the ground;
• an optical terminal that supports high-speed data transfer and downlink;
• and a file protection scheme to safeguard satellite data against long error-bursts/outages in optical satellite downlinks.

100 Gbit/s data-rate

While these individual advances represent significant improvements over current satellite payload technologies, Hi-SIDE’s main achievement will be the demonstration of the complete data chain architecture, which is designed to handle an aggregate instrument data-rate of at least 50 Gbit/s in the near term and greater than 100 Gbit/s in the future.

The team is currently completing the verification of the individual data chain elements, and on 16 June they will integrate and demonstrate the end to end performance of the data chain, from instrument to ground-station.

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