Title: Technology Readiness Level (TRL) Advancement of the MSPI On-Board Processing Platform for the ACE Decadal Survey Mission
Author: Paula Pingree
Organization: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Co-Authors: Thomas Werne, Dmitriy Bekker, Thor Wilson

The Xilinx Virtex-5QV is a new Single-event Immune Reconfigurable FPGA (SIRF) device that is targeted as the spaceborne processor for the NASA Decadal Survey Aerosol-Cloud-Ecosystem (ACE) missionís Multiangle SpectroPolarimetric Imager (MSPI) instrument, currently under development at JPL. A key technology needed for MSPI is on-board processing (OBP) to calculate polarimetry data as imaged by each of the 9 cameras forming the instrument. With funding from NASAís ESTO AIST Program, JPL is demonstrating how signal data at 95 Mbytes/sec over 16 channels for each of the 9 multi-angle cameras can be reduced to 0.45 Mbytes/sec, thereby substantially reducing the image data volume for spacecraft downlink without loss of science information. This is done via a least-squares fitting algorithm implemented on the Virtex-5 FPGA operating in real-time on the raw video data stream.

The MSPI instrument development consists of three phases: Ground-MSPI, Air-MSPI, and Space-MSPI. Ground-MSPI is a ground-based camera demonstration focused on characterizing the imager optics and performance. Air-MSPI is an updated version of the ground system that was flown twice on an ER-2 aircraft in 2010. Lessons learned from the ground- and air-based demonstrations will be used in the future design of the satellite-based Space-MSPI instrument. In the first 2-years of the AIST task, the OBP algorithm has been demonstrated on a commercial Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA-based development platform integrated with the Ground-MSPI camera system and also instantiated directly on the Air-MSPI electronicsí military-grade Virtex-5 FPGA for validation in the laboratory environment. In Year 3, airborne validation of the OBP algorithm is planned with another ER-2 flight of Air-MSPI.

A related task funded in 2010 by NASAís ESTO ATI Program integrates the MSPI OBP algorithm on the Virtex-5 SIRF device as a payload to the University of Michiganís M-Cubed CubeSat to gain on-orbit validation of this platform and thereby further advance the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) for MSPI and the ACE mission. This new task is called COVE (CubeSat On-board processing Validation Experiment). M-Cubed, carrying the JPL-provided COVE processor payload, has been selected for launch on the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) Mission, currently scheduled on a Delta-II launch vehicle out of Vandenberg Air Force Base on October 18, 2011.

This paper will present the path of TRL advancement that these two ESTO-funded tasks will achieve for the MSPI OBP algorithm and Virtex-5 FPGA-based processing platform in support of the ACE Decadal Survey mission.