Fault-Tolerant Nanosatellite Computing on a Budget

Christian M. Fuchs, Nadia M. Murillo, Aske Plaat, Erik van der Kouwe, Daniel Harsono, Todor P. Stefanov
2018 2018 18th European Conference on Radiation and Its Effects on Components and Systems (RADECS)  
We present an on-board computer architecture designed for small satellites (<50kg), which exploits software-fault-tolerance to achieve strong fault coverage with commodity hardware. Micro-and nanosatellites have become popular platforms for a variety of commercial and scientific applications, but today are considered suitable mainly for short and low-priority space missions due to their low reliability. In part, this can be attributed to their reliance upon cheap, low-feature size, COTS
more » ... ts originally designed for embedded and mobilemarket applications, for which traditional hardware-voting concepts are ineffective. Software-fault-tolerance has been shown to be effective for such systems, but have largely been ignored by the space industry due to low maturity, as most have only been researched in theory. In practice, designers of payload instruments and miniaturized satellites are usually forced to sacrifice reliability in favor of delivering the level of performance necessary for cutting-edge science and innovative commercial applications. Thus, we developed a set of software measures facilitating fault tolerance based upon thread-level coarse-grain lockstep, which we validated through fault-injection. To offer strong long-term fault coverage, our architecture is implemented as tiled MPSoC on an FPGA, utilizing partial reconfiguration, as well as mixed criticality. This architecture can satisfy the high performance requirements of current and future scientific and commercial space missions at very low cost, while offering the strong fault-coverage guarantees necessary for platform control even for missions with a long duration. This architecture was developed for a 4-year ESA project. Together with two industrial partners, we are developing a prototype to then undergo radiation testing.
doi:10.1109/radecs45761.2018.9328685 fatcat:rlx7m4yn4nhhddvb3hmfsgmbti