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(21 September 2020 – JPL) Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory met a significant milestone recently by delivering key elements of an ice-penetrating radar instrument for an ESA (European Space Agency) mission to explore Jupiter and its three large icy moons.

While following the laboratory’s stringent COVID-19 Safe-at-Work precautions, JPL teams managed to build and ship the receiver, transmitter, and electronics necessary to complete the radar instrument for the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built and shipped the receiver, transmitter, and electronics necessary to complete the radar instrument for JUICE, the ESA (European Space Agency) mission to explore Jupiter and its three large icy moons. Here the transmitter undergoes vibration testing at JPL. (courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Set to launch in 2022, JUICE will orbit Jupiter for three years, perform multiple flybys of moons Callisto and Europa, then orbit Ganymede. The spacecraft will observe Jupiter’s atmosphere up close as well as analyze the surfaces and interiors of the three moons, which are believed to harbor liquid water under their icy crusts.

One of 10 instruments, the radar is key to exploring those moons. Called Radar for Icy Moon Exploration, or RIME, it sends out radio waves that can penetrate the surface up to 6 or 7 miles (10 kilometers) and collects data on how the waves bounce back. Some of the waves penetrate the crust and reflect off subsurface features – and the watery interiors – enabling scientists to “see” underneath.

In the case of Europa, which is believed to have a global ocean beneath its crust, the radar data will help gauge the thickness of the ice. NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, set to launch in the mid-2020s, will arrive around the same time as JUICE and collect complementary science as it performs multiple flybys of Europa.

Building RIME During a Pandemic

A collaboration between JPL in Southern California and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), JUICE’s RIME is led by Principal Investigator Lorenzo Bruzzone of the University of Trento in Italy. JPL’s responsibility was to make and deliver the transmitter and receiver – the pieces that send out and pull in radio signals – as well as the electronics that help those pieces communicate with RIME’s antenna. Now that the components have been delivered to ASI in Rome, the next steps are to test and integrate them before assembling the instrument.

“I’m really impressed that the engineers working on this project were able to pull this off,” said JPL’s Jeffrey Plaut, co-principal investigator of RIME. “We are so proud of them, because it was incredibly challenging. We had a commitment to our partners overseas, and we met that – which is very gratifying.”

In mid-March, engineers had just finished building the transmitter and its corresponding set of electronics. They were about to run an exhaustive regimen of tests to ensure the equipment would survive deep space – including vibration, shock, and thermal vacuum testing, which simulates the vacuum and extreme temperatures of space.

Then the coronavirus pandemic forced most JPL’s employees to work remotely. The tests would have to wait.

About a month later, RIME engineers and technicians came back on-site after JPL put in place its Safe-at-Work protocols, including – among other measures – social distancing, mask-wearing, and frequent hand-washing. Now the team had a schedule crunch, plus other new challenges. As one of the first teams to re-enter JPL (most employees continue to work remotely), they needed to figure out new ways to do things that used to be easy. Just finding screws and other fasteners, when the usual supply shop wasn’t open, became a puzzle to solve.

Project Manager Don Heyer had new human challenges as well.

“We needed to keep people not just safe – but comfortable being there,” Heyer said. “That was important, because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to do the job successfully.”

The key to moving forward was clearly defining next steps, he said. At the same time, they needed to make safety requirements thorough, but not too much of an additional burden for the staff. It was a learning experience, he said.

“But we got there pretty quickly.”

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Space

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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