Spacecraft Technology

The SERC is working on several different technology areas.  Listed below are the major thrusts.

Multi-Core Processor

The Maestro Flight Experiment (MFE) demonstrates the operation of a modern, many-core radiation hardened processor (the Maestro ITC) in space. The Maestro Flight Experiment (MFE) is an experimental package that will demonstrate on-orbit operation of the Maestro ITC (Initial Test Chip) 49-core radiation hardened processor [1]. It will be hosted by a DARPA Project through the NovaWurks eXCITe platform, which will be placed in orbit by an Indian PSLV. The launch is expected to take place in late 2017. The MFE executes diagnostics, performs image processing activities, addresses strategies for dealing with thermal and power constraints in orbit, and assesses the sensitivity of the processor to radiation exposure in low earth orbit. The MFE demonstrates a substantial advance in radiation hardened on-orbit computational performance, which is needed to handle the ever-increasing data load of modern imaging sensors and other orbital sensor systems.  The MFE is based on a Pumpkin, Inc, motherboard and PIC24 processor board. Additional boards host the Maestro ITC processor, its off-chip RAM and flash memory resources, DC-to-DC converters, and other circuitry. The boards are contained in a 1U housing that attaches to the primary spacecraft. Internal aluminum panels provide a thermal path between the MFE's major heat sources (e.g., the Maestro ITC processor and the DC-to-DC converters) and the interface to the satellite. 

Docking/Capture Mechanisms

The Lab has been working on two different types of "contact" or capture mechanisms:

CLING (Electro Mechanical System).

Created by Dr Berok Khoshnevis from USC, CLING is a genderless traditional mechanical coupling system that can be put on any type of vehicle or platform to make an automatic joint connection.


Electro Adhesion.

Two students have worked a novel mechanism that induces an electro-static charge on its surface that when connected to an object provides a shear force for attachment and connection.  The concept is being worked by SRI and JPL for space applications as well.


Summer Projects 2017

- Fusion of LIDAR and Optical and Radar sensors into point cloud for on orbit characterization

- Multi-body dynamic testing of unique collison avoidance algorithms for SWARM flight operations

- Passive sensing of electro-adhesion contact

- A 4pi steredian situational contact sensor system

- Liquid mirror formation using electromagnetic force fields