Programmable Logic


High-reliability FPGA solutions chosen for BIRD satellite

14 August 2002 Programmable Logic

Actel has announced that its high-reliability, FPGAs have been chosen by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) for its Bi-Spectral Infrared Detection (BIRD) satellite, the world's first satellite that uses infrared sensor technology to detect and investigate high-temperature events on Earth, such as forest fires, volcanic activities, burning oil wells and coal seams. More than 20 Actel high-reliability FPGAs are used in many mission-critical functions on the satellite, including payload data handling, memory management, interfacing and control and co-processing as well as sensor control in the infrared camera.

"The BIRD satellite design specifications required devices that offered high performance, radiation tolerance and low power consumption. Actel's FPGAs easily met these needs and enabled us to also satisfy our stringent requirements for single-event upset performance and immunity to destructive heavy ion-induced, single-event latchup effects," said Bernd Kirchner, spokesman of the BIRD mission. "Further, with Actel's devices, we were able to integrate many mission-critical functions into fewer solutions, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of components, total weight and board space required for the satellite design."

"Actel continues to be a key player in the technology behind major breakthroughs occurring in space and we plan to continue to push forward with our involvement in and development of high-reliability programmable logic technology for radiation-intensive environments," said Jon Ewald, director of product marketing at Actel.

The DLR BIRD satellite is a technology demonstrator for new infrared push-broom sensors that were especially developed for the recognition and quantitative estimation of thermal processes on the Earth's surface. BIRD was launched in October 2001 with the Indian rocket PSLV-C3 in a circle-shaped orbit with a diameter of 572 km in height. At present, the satellite is in its commissioning phase. First, all the satellite's components are put to work, their operational parameters are collected, and the redundancy circuits are tested. Then, the payload complex of the satellite is tested and the system for processing the ground data is put to work.

For more information: Kobus van Rooyen, ASIC Design Services, 011 315 8316, kobus@asic.co.za



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