Tech Briefs

High-performing hybrid systems embed unprecedented amounts of onboard processing power.

RUSHMAPS is a new onboard data reduction scheme that gives real-time access to key science parameters (e.g. moments) of a class of heliophysics science and/or solar system exploration investigation that includes plasma particle spectrometers (PPS), but requires moments reporting (density, bulk-velocity, temperature, pressure, etc.) of higherlevel quality, and tolerates a low-pass (variable quality) spectral representation of the corresponding particle velocity distributions, such that telemetry use is minimized. The proposed methodology trades access to the full-resolution velocity distribution data, saving on telemetry, for real-time access to both the moments and an adjustable-quality (increasing quality increases volume) spectral representation of distribution functions.

Traditional onboard data storage and downlink bandwidth constraints severely limit PPS system functionality and drive cost, which, as a consequence, drives a limited data collection and lower angular energy and time resolution. This prototypical system exploit, using high-performance processing technology at GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center), uses a SpaceCube and/or Maestro-type platform for processing. These processing platforms are currently being used on the International Space Station as a technology demonstration, and work is currently ongoing in a new onboard computation system for the Earth Science missions, but they have never been implemented in heliospheric science or solar system exploration missions.

Preliminary analysis confirms that the targeted processor platforms possess the processing resources required for real-time application of these algorithms to the spectrometer data. SpaceCube platforms demonstrate that the target architecture possesses the sort of compact, lowmass/ power, radiation-tolerant characteristics needed for flight. These high-performing hybrid systems embed unprecedented amounts of onboard processing power in the CPU (central processing unit), FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays), and DSP (digital signal processing) elements. The fundamental computational algorithm deconstructs 3D velocity distributions in terms of spherical harmonic spectral coefficients (which are analogous to a Fourier sine-cosine decomposition), but uses instead spherical harmonics Legendre polynomial orthogonal functions as a basis for the expansion, portraying each 2D angular distribution at every energy or, geometrically, spherical speed-shell swept by the particle spectrometer. Optionally, these spherical harmonic spectral coefficients may be telemetered to the ground. These will provide a smoothed description of the velocity distribution function whose quality will depend on the number of coefficients determined.

Successfully implemented on the GSFC-developed processor, the capability to integrate the proposed methodology with both heritage and anticipated future plasma particle spectrometer designs is demonstrated (with sufficiently detailed design analysis to advance TRL) to show specific science relevancy with future HSD (Heliophysics Science Division) solarinterplanetary, planetary missions, sounding rockets and/or CubeSat missions.

This work was done by Adolfo Figueroa- Vinas of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16455-1

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).

RUSHMAPS: Real-time Uploadable Spherical Harmonic Moment Analysis for Particle Spectrometers (reference GSC-16455-1) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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