ESA Education's European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO) micro-satellite mission is aimed at providing students with valuable and challenging hands-on space project experience across all disciplines and throughout the full project lifecycle in order to fully prepare a well qualified space workforce for the future. Our university's students and teachers have been participating for several years in this project with the support of the Space Research Group at the BME Department of Broadband Infocommunicatons and Electromagnetic Theory. Presently, three subsystems are being developed in Hungary for the ESEO spacecraft: the Electrical Power Subsystem (EPS), the TriTel 3-D radiation dosimetry experiment and the baseline of the present document, the Langmuir Probe experiment (LMP).
The data acquisition and measurement control electronics of the LMP plasma diagnostic experiment is designed with respect to the special requirements due to space environment operation: the payload is exposed to extreme mechanical and thermal load during the launch of the carrier rocket, together with further corpuscular radiation in space. Restricted power consumption was another essential design aspect.
The subject of my BSc thesis is the development of the LMP subsystem programming interface. In this paper, I present this as conclusion of our former and overlapping hardware design work.
The processing unit of the panel performing the experiment’s digital data acquisition and control functions is 8051 architecture-based microcontroller implemented on an Actel FPGA. Its advantage is that some necessary peripherals and supplementary logic circuits can be embedded into the FPGA with respect to specific goals. However, equipment and programming of these can differ from common solutions. Standardised and/or higher level management of the various analog and communications interfaces, memories and other peripherals demand design of an application programming interface (API). The API is essentially a device driver software, that includes functions with which the measurement control software for the data acquisition module can be implemented more simply and efficiently. The objective and operation of these functions and their respectively controlled hardware parts is introduced in my thesis.