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(20 August 2020 – NASA Goddard) Optical communications, transmitting data using infrared lasers, has the potential to help NASA return more data to Earth than ever.

The benefits of this technology to exploration and Earth science missions are huge. In support of a mission to demonstrate this technology, NASA recently completed installing its newest optical ground station in Haleakala, Hawaii.

The state-of-the-art ground station, called Optical Ground Station 2 (OGS-2), is the second of two optical ground stations to be built that will collect data transmitted to Earth by NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). Launching in early 2021, this trailblazing mission will be the linchpin in NASA’s first operational optical communications relay system. While other NASA efforts have used optical communications, this will be NASA’s first relay system using optical entirely, giving NASA the opportunity to test this method of communications and learn valuable lessons from its implementation. Relay satellites create critical communications links between science and exploration missions and Earth, enabling these missions to transmit important data to scientists and mission managers back home.

OGS-2 optical telescope dome. (courtesy: NASA)

While optical communications provides missions with many advantages, it can be disrupted by atmospheric interference such as clouds. OGS-2 was chosen to be located in Hawaii because of its clear skies, but bad weather can still happen. On a cloudy day, LCRD would have to wait before transmitting data. In order to avoid delays, services may be transferred to another ground station developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; OGS-1, located in Table Mountain, California. To monitor cloud coverage and determine if OGS-1 is needed, commercial partner Northrop Grumman provided an atmospheric monitoring station that observes weather conditions at the site. This monitoring station runs nearly autonomously 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

LCRD and OGS-2 will demonstrate the numerous capabilities of optical, or laser, communications for use as a communications relay. Optical communications provides significant benefits for missions, including data rate increases of 10 to 100 times more than comparable radio frequency communications systems. This increase means higher resolution data for missions, giving scientists a much more detailed look at our planet and solar system. Benefits also include decreased power needs, size and weight, meaning longer battery life, more room for additional instruments on spacecraft and potential cost savings at launch due to lighter payloads.

“LCRD and its ground stations will demonstrate optical communications as a relay, which means missions will be able to transmit data from points in their orbit without direct line of sight of the ground stations,” said Dave Israel, LCRD principal investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “In 2013, NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration set a space communications bandwidth record from the Moon using optical communications with a system requiring direct line of sight.”

NASA’s Space Network manages OGS-2’s integration, test and operations and will eventually operate LCRD. The Space Network oversees a constellation of NASA communications satellites, known as Tracking and Data Relay Satellites, and their associated ground stations, which includes the White Sands Complex in White Sands, New Mexico. The network provides continuous communications services to missions in low-Earth orbit through radio frequency. While radio frequency will continue to have utility in space communications well into the future, the growing communications needs of many missions necessitates greater data rates.

OGS-2’s installation was a collaborative effort between government, commercial and academic institutions. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory provided the test and diagnostics terminal, which consists of three parts: an optical subsystem, digital subsystem and controller electronics. The three components send, receive and process optical signals to and from LCRD.

Optical communications, through the development of LCRD and its two ground terminals, could have far-reaching impacts for future knowledge of Earth and our solar system. Spacecraft equipped with optical communications systems will effectively allow enhanced data, such as high-resolution video, to be brought back down to Earth faster, thanks to increased data rates. With this data, scientists will get a closer look at our universe with the potential to uncover exciting new discoveries.

The Space Network and LCRD are both managed out of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Programmatic oversight for the Space Network is provided by the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program within NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. LCRD is funded by SCaN and the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Technology Demonstration Missions program based at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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Renesas’ Intersil brand 14-Bit, 1-MSPS ADC delivers best-in-class radiation-hardened performance

Renesas Intersil brand 14 Bit 1 MSPS ADC delivers best in class radiation hardened performance

(1 December 2020 – Renesas) Renesas Electronics today announced the industry’s highest performance single-chip 14-Bit, 1-MSPS successive-approximation-register (SAR) analog-to-digital converter (ADC) for radiation-hardened (rad-hard) space applications.

Renesas’ Intersil brand ISL73141SEH delivers best in class dynamic and static performance, including signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), effective number of bits (ENOB), integral non-linearity (INL) and differential non-linearity (DNL). The ADC fully resets after every sample, clearing any errors that result from a single event upset (SEU) due to heavy ion radiation during spaceflight.

The ISL73141SEH is one of the key signal-path building blocks in long duration geosynchronous / geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) communication satellites and manned spacecraft, including lunar space missions. By delivering the industry’s best dynamic and static performance, the new 14-bit ADC accurately captures real-world analog transmissions and converts them for processing in the digital domain. The ISL73141SEH ADC is one of seven ICs, including rad-hard temperature sensor, multiplexer, quad op amp, ADC driver, LDO and voltage reference to form a complete sensor interface signal chain solution that accelerates telemetry, tracking, and control (TT&C) and flight computer system development.

“The ISL73141SEH offers satellite and spacecraft manufacturers the ultimate in ADC performance combined with a best-in-class sensor interface signal chain,” said Philip Chesley, Vice President, Industrial and Communications Business Division at Renesas. “Our space-grade 14-bit ADC delivers significantly better data converter performance than any other competing solution, and it is backed by six decades of leadership in radiation performance testing and characterization that gives spaceflight customers the mission assurance they demand.”

The space-grade ISL73141SEH is fully characterized for enhanced low dose rate-sensitivity (ELDRS) radiation performance up to 75krad(Si) for total ionizing dose (TID) and linear energy transfer (LET) up to 86MeVcm2/mg for single event effects (SEE). The SEE testing also shows no single event latch-up (SEL) or single event burnout (SEB). In addition, single event transients (SETs) have also been mitigated by testing at an LET range up to 86MeVcm2/mg.

Key Features of the ISL73141SEH 14-Bit, 1-MSPS SAR ADC

  • 1-MSPS throughput rate with no data latency and no missing codes
  • 5V supply, dissipates only 60mW
  • High SNR of 82.1dBFS at 5V supply operation
  • Operating from a 3.3V supply at 750-KSPS, dissipates only 28mW
  • Single supply operation simplifies system design
  • Highest dynamic performance of 13.3 ENOB, enabling > 12-bit resolution
  • Superior linearity: ±0.5 LSB INL and ±0.2 LSB DNL
  • Full military temperature range of -55°C to +125°C
  • Sensor Interface Signal Chain for TT&C and Flight Computer

The ISL73141SEH 14-Bit, 1-MSPS SAR ADC is at the heart of the sensor interface signal chain and connects via SPI interface to MPUs, MCUs, and/or FPGAs to digitize sensor signals in digital TT&C subsystems and flight computers. System designers are able to build the entire signal chain with Renesas’ Intersil brand analog and power ICs, including: ISL71590SEH temperature sensor; ISL70444SEH quad op amp; ISL71830SEH 16-channel low voltage multiplexer; ISL70517SEH instrumentation amp with ADC driver; ISL75052SEH high voltage LDO regulator; and ISL71091SEH40 precision, low-noise voltage reference.

Availability

The ISL73141SEH 14-bit, 1-MSPS SAR ADC is available now in a 14-lead ceramic dual flatpack package. An evaluation board is available for evaluating device features and performance.

About Renesas Electronics Corporation

Renesas Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723) delivers trusted embedded design innovation with complete semiconductor solutions that enable billions of connected, intelligent devices to enhance the way people work and live. A global leader in microcontrollers, analog, power, and SoC products, Renesas provides comprehensive solutions for a broad range of automotive, industrial, infrastructure, and IoT applications that help shape a limitless future.

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BlackSky names Uyen Dinh as Vice President for Government Relations and Strategy

BlackSky names Uyen Dinh as Vice President for Government Relations

(1 December 2020 – BlackSky) BlackSky today announced Uyen (pronounced “Win”) Dinh as its Vice President for Government Relations and Strategy.

Ms. Dinh brings more than two decades of experience, knowledge, and insight in the federal legislative, authorization, and appropriations processes. She is well versed in national security policy, national and military intelligence programs and policies, geospatial intelligence (GEOINT), cybersecurity, and other national security space issues.

Uyen Dinh (courtesy: BlackSky)

“BlackSky will make significant strides with Uyen leading our government relations and strategy efforts,” said Brian O’Toole, BlackSky CEO. “Uyen has the unique ability to view challenges and opportunities strategically, while building tactical roadmaps to address them. We will benefit from her experiences both in the public and private sectors. We look forward to Uyen spearheading our efforts to ensure that decision makers have a better understanding of BlackSky’s capabilities to deliver near real-time, first-to-know insights.”

Before joining BlackSky, Ms. Dinh served in the Department of Homeland Security as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Legislative Affairs. Prior to her executive branch service, she established Win Strategies, a strategic consulting company specializing in national security, space, ISR, and GEOINT issues. Earlier in her career she served as the vice president for government affairs at GeoEye, Inc., an early New Space company that built and launched high-resolution commercial imaging satellites.

Previously, Ms. Dinh served as majority counsel for several U.S. House of Representative committees and offices including the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, and the Office of Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) specializing in national security and defense, intelligence, and homeland security issues.

“I’m excited about my new role with BlackSky,” said Ms. Dinh. “It’s a dynamic and innovative company with strong leadership and a talented workforce. BlackSky has a clear mission to deliver timely and accurate geospatial intelligence to better inform critical decision making. I’m looking forward to advancing this mission; by bringing awareness to how predictive analytics give decision makers exactly the info they need, when they need it. This is game changing.”

Born in Saigon, the Republic of Viet Nam, Ms. Dinh immigrated with her family to the United States in 1975. She received her undergraduate degree from James Madison University and her Juris Doctor from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. Ms. Dinh is a member of the Virginia State Bar and serves on the Washington Cyber Roundtable’s Board of Advisors.

About BlackSky

BlackSky is a global monitoring company. We monitor activities and facilities worldwide by harnessing the world’s emerging sensor networks and leveraging our own satellite constellation. We process millions of observations daily from space, air, environmental sensors, asset tracking sensors, Industrial IoT, and Internet-enabled narrative sources. BlackSky’s on-demand swarm of satellites can image a location multiple times throughout the day. We monitor for pattern-of-life anomalies to produce alerts and enhance situational awareness. Our monitoring service is powered by cutting-edge compute techniques including machine learning, artificial intelligence, computer vision, and natural language processing. BlackSky’s global monitoring is available via a simple subscription and requires no IT infrastructure or setup.

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ND SatCom unveils SKYWAN 5G Release 2.0

ND SatCom unveils SKYWAN 5G Release 20

(1 December 2020 – ND Satcom) ND SatCom has unveiled SKYWAN 5G Release 2.0, the latest iteration of the only VSAT technology allowing multi-channel TDMA networks with True-Mesh ACM for hubless secure communication.

ND SatCom’s new True-Mesh ACM, provides the highest link reliability and stability regardless of changing link conditions, boosting throughput by throttling only the direct hop between two sites, while also supporting SCPC.

SKYWAN 5G (courtesy: ND Satcom)

SKYWAN 5G Release 2.0 secures mission-critical networks with these major new advantages:

  • Boosted network performance: 64x boost throughput with unique ACM true mesh
    • Industry-leading ACM with single-hop mesh
    • Highest link reliability regardless of weather

  • Enhanced network options: 3x the choice with our triple mode within one modem
    • Flexibly decide network topology

      • Hubless true mesh MF-TDMA, DVB-S2 or SCPC

    • New SCPC links provide highly efficient point-to-point connection

  • Assured investment: 4 years software support for business continuity and cybersecurity
    • Diminish impact from cyber threats
    • Activate security and stability patches whenever
    • Save bandwidth with the smart new “over-the-air” update

“The game changing SKYWAN 5G Release 2.0 is here,” said Michael Weixler, Head of Product Management. “True-Mesh ACM with intelligence integrated into the SKYWAN nodes automatically gives the customer maximum performance for any topology and network design. Combined with the new Point-2-Point waveform on the same platform, customers decide when to re-configure their networks based on actual connectivity needs,“ Weixler continued. “Flexibility and security throughout represent a whole new level for VSATs and a quantum leap for SKYWAN 5G.”

ND SatCom

With more than 30 years of experience in satellite communications, ND SatCom is the world’s leading supplier of satellite-based communications systems and ground stations and supports customers with critical operations anywhere in the world.

Customers in more than 130 countries have chosen ND SatCom as a reliable source for high quality and secure solutions that include turnkey and customized systems. The company’s innovative technologies are used globally by governments, the military, television and radio broadcasting, telecommunications and enterprises.

The company’s core product SKYWAN enables secure, reliable and fast communications for thousands of users daily. With the SKYWAN network solution, ND SatCom connects the IT world with satellite communication and offers fully integrated and optimised solutions for the worldwide availability of online applications.

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