Development of satellite onboard data collection system

OData support
Dr. Csurgai-Horváth László
Department of Broadband Infocommunications and Electromagnetic Theory

Development of data acquisition module for onboard satellite experiment

A lot of scientific experiments in the world require digital data acquisition systems. To realize this purpose, there are several solutions available on the market. What makes our system different from ordinary systems is that it has been designed to function even under the special environmental conditions of space. These conditions include the extreme mechanical shock during the launch of the booster carrying the satellite platform, the intensive radiation to which circuitry is exposed and the limited sources of electrical power supply [1].

In the project reviewed in our discussion the goal was to design a digital module suitable for these conditions to carry out measurement data acquisition and control of a Langmuir probe instrument that is to be used for plasma diagnostics experiment [2, 3] in the ESA ESEO mission. Among other tasks, the panel has to configure the analog circuits controlling the probe and to register the resulting voltages.

Digital structures of this function have to contain a processor unit along with memory module and peripherals to acquire, convert, store and transmit measurement data.

The processing unit in our system is implemented by an Intel 8051 architecture IP core within an FPGA along with a memory interface and other peripheral control logic for the D/A and A/D converters required to interact with the instrument and a serial communication interface that connects the module with the satellite onboard computer [4, 5].

As a result of our work we have concluded the design and implementation of the necessary hardware and developed the software for testing the various functions of the peripheral elements. We have verified the operation of the units installed on the board by debugging and logic analyzer measurements.


[1] Maini et al.: “Satellite Technology: Principles and Applications”, Wiley, 2010.

[2] Carlo Gavazzi Space System Engineering and University Coordination Team / LMP Team (BME): “LMP Subsystem Design Definition File”, 2010.

[3] Gubicza Ágnes és Király Richárd: “Az Ionoszféra Vizsgálata Langmuir Szondával”,

BME TDK dolgozat 2010.

[4] ESA – Space Engineering: “System engineering general requirements” (ECSS-E-ST‐10)

[5] Actel: RTAX-S/SL and RTAX-DSP Radiation-Tolerant FPGAs, Rev. 13.


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