Computation of earth science products on spaceborne platforms
2010 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium
Spaceborne sensors like NASA's Hyperion hyperspectral imager generate huge data volumes, and several near-term trends indicate that data volumes will only increase. Next-generation hyperspectral missions, such as NASA's Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI), will operate at higher duty cycles and higher data rates, and their users will expect products to be generated from the data in near real time  . Barring a sudden advance in satellite downlink capacity, these trends point to a need to
... point to a need to process data and generate products onboard the spacecraft. Rather than downlink an entire hyperspectral image cube, onboard processing enables satellites to downlink partial or completed scientific data products, which are often one to two orders of magnitude smaller than the original image. In addition, a satellite with onboard data processing resources and direct broadcast transmission equipment could send data products directly to first responders, research scientists or other users on the ground. Next-generation space-capable data processors will have a combination of reconfigurable gate arrays, digital signal processors and general-purpose CPUs. Correctly programmed and configured, these resources are sufficient to run sophisticated data analysis programs, including hyperspectral image processing algorithms that commonly run on desktop computers . This paper describes how we implemented one such program, the HSEG hierarchical image segmentation algorithm, software commonly used on desktop and parallel processors, on a hardware platform designed to mimic a next-generation space-capable data processor  . We also describe our approach to porting the algorithm to and optimizing it for the new platform, and determine the expected performance gains enabled by our design. This extended abstract will describe the HSEG algorithm and hardware platform in greater detail, provide an analysis of the key function within the algorithm that required hardware acceleration, and describe our implementation of that function in hardware.