Systems Engineering Seminar

SpaceCube: A Family Of Reconfigurable Hybrid On-Board Science Data Processors

Presented by:
Tom Flatley, Branch Head, Science Data Processing Branch (Code 587)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 1:00 pm
Building 3 Auditorium


SpaceCube is a family of FPGA based on-board science data processing systems developed at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) with the goal of providing 10x to 100x improvements in on-board computing power while lowering relative power consumption and cost. SpaceCube is based on the Xilinx Virtex family of FPGAs, which include CPU, FPGA logic and DSP resources. These processing elements are leveraged to produce a hybrid science data processing platform that accelerates the execution of algorithms by distributing computational functions to the most suitable elements. This approach enables the implementation of complex on-board functions that were previously limited to ground based systems, such as onboard product generation, data volume reduction, calibration, classification, event/feature detection, data fusion/mining and real-time autonomous operations. The system is fully reconfigurable in flight, including both software and FPGA logic, through either ground commands or autonomously in response to detected events in the instrument data stream, and has been demonstrated multiple times in orbit. This talk will present an overview of our SpaceCube technology development efforts and highlight past, present and future applications of SpaceCube technology.


Tom Flatley is a Computer Engineer at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and is currently Branch Head of the Science Data Processing Branch. Prior to this assignment he served as Branch Head and senior researcher in the Science Data Systems Branch (2005-2007), and Chief Technologist and Acting Associate Head of the Microelectronics & Signal Processing Branch and Electrical Systems Branch (2003-2004). From 1998-2002 he served as Chief Technologist and Associate Head of the Ground Systems Hardware Branch, and from 1993-1997 he served as head of the Flight Electrical Systems Section and Flight Component Development Group. Prior to this period he developed numerous flight and ground components and subsystems for various NASA missions, beginning in 1985. Mr. Flatley's current work includes the coordination of embedded science data processing technology development and hardware accelerated science data processing activities, serving as Principal Investigator on multiple flight processing experiments, with the primary goal of developing re-configurable computing technology and hybrid systems for flight and ground science data processing applications. He is also a key member of the GSFC CubeSat/SmallSat technology working group, manages numerous collaborations with government, industry and academic partners, and serves as liaison between technology developers and end users in the science community. Mr. Flatley received a 2011 NASA "Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal", the 2012 American Astronautical Society "William Randolph Lovelace II Award", the 2013 Goddard "Innovator of the Year" award, 2015 & 2016 NASA "Silver Achievement" medals, and the 2015 Rotary National Award for Space Achievement "Stellar Award" for advancing spaceflight and space exploration technology through the development of the SpaceCube family of hybrid on-board science data processors. Mr. Flatley was named a Goddard Senior Fellow in 2016.


Return to SE Seminars Home


Systems Engineering Seminar Contacts