Low Earth orbit satellites are in demand globally. This demand is unprecedented because of several factors including speedier and affordable internet access and faster revisit rates with finer resolution for imaging data. Communications and imaging functions performed by satellite payload instruments are more sophisticated and have added tremendous capabilities. They are required to collect huge amounts of telemetry data which ensures safe and reliable satellite operations. This is accomplished using multiple, large, power-hungry and heat-generating circuit cards which contain a variety of discrete components that monitors the health of the payload.
The component count of these I/O cards and the area and power they consume can all be significantly reduced by leveraging the latest advances in radiation-hardened mixed-signal integrated circuits (ICs) combined with a new open instruction set architecture (ISA) for reduced instruction set computing called RISC-V (pronounced “risk-five”).