Optimizing data acquisition systems in space applications – with Texas Instruments (TI)

Podcast

Episode 45 of the Space Industry podcast is a discussion with Adrian Helwig, Analog Field Application Engineer, and Michael Seidl, Systems Engineer with a focus on space applications, of satsearch member Texas Instruments (TI).

Contents


Episode show notes

Texas Instruments is a global electronics manufacturer and innovation company with a strong interest in space. In this podcast Michael and Adrian delve into the myriad of decisions that face engineers looking to develop optimally-performing data acquisition system for space. We cover:

  • The typical compromises that designers face when developing solutions for data acquisition system function
  • How to assess the entire signal chain to boost performance
  • Guidance on implementing effective fault detection and protection protocols
  • Advice and resources for assessing different circuit setups and data architectures to optimize performance

Links and resources mentioned in the podcast


The space portfolio of Texas Instruments

The Texas instruments TIDA-070002 is a reference design suitable for command and data handling, Radar imaging payload, and electrical power system applications. An isolated feedback flyback with overcurrent flags and current sensing are created by this reference design using LM139AQML-SP quadcomparator, INA901-SP radiation hardened current monitor and UC1901-SP.

The Texas Instruments TIDA-070001 is a reference design demonstrating how to implement redundancy at the input of a Point-of-Load (POL) supply with two TPS7H2201-SP radiation hardened eFuse load switches featuring an adjustable over-voltage protection (OVP). A primary and redundant voltage is supplied to the rad harderend POL step-down converter TPS50601A-SP using two load switches.

The Texas Instruments TPS7H4001QEVM-CVAL is an evaluation module (EVM) demonstrating the usage of TPS7H4001-SP to support typical ASIC and FPGA applications. In this module, A regulated power rail capable of load current up to 72 A are provided using Four TPS7H4001-SP buck converters, configured in master/slave mode.

The Texas intruments ALPHA-XILINX-KU060-SPACE is a development kit for the Xilinx® XQRKU060 FPGA with industrial -1 speed grade. With a modular board design, ADA-SDEV-KIT2 has two FMC connectors, system monitoring, DDR3 DRAM, space-grade TI power management and temperature-sensing solutions and a XRTC-compatible configuration module.

The Texas Instruments TPS73801-SEP is a low-dropout (LDO) regulator designed to offer a fast transient response. It has a dropout voltage of 300 mV and can supply 1A of output current. The device's closely-controlled quiescent current is 1 mA, which drops to less than 1 µA in shutdown, and it has been designed to produce very low output noise.

The Texas Instruments TPS7H4010-SEP is a synchronous step-down DC/DC converter capable of driving a load current of up to 6A from a supply voltage that can range from 3.5 to 32 V. The converter is designed for ease-of-use and to provide a high level of efficiency and output accuracy in a small size. It has a pinout designed for a simple PCB layout that includes optimal thermal and EMI performance.

The Texas Instruments TL7700-SEP is a bipolar integrated circuit designed to be used as a reset controller in microprocessor and microcomputer systems. It features a highly stable circuit function with a 1.8-40 V supply voltage and a SENSE voltage that can be set to any value greater than 0.5 V using 2 external resistors.

The Texas Instruments TL1431 is a precision programmable reference suitable for aerospace, industrial, auto, telecom, and computing. TL1431 features the fundamental analog building, an accurate voltage reference and op amp with specified thermal stability over commercial, automotive and military temperature ranges.

The Texas Instruments LM185-1.2QML-SP is a micropower 2-terminal band-gap voltage regulator diodes that is space-graded, ceramic packaged and radiation-tolerant. The component features a low dynamic impedance, tolerant of capacitive loading and a good temperature stability. Low noise and long term stability is ensured by design due to the use of transistors and resistors.

The Texas Instruments TPS7A4501-SP is a low-dropout (LDO) regulator for space-grade subsystems such as FPGA, data converters and analog circuitry. The radiation hardened regulator is optimized for fast-transient response and is designed to have very-low output noise making it suitable for RF supply applications.

The Texas Instruments TPS7H1101A-SP is a LDO linear regulator suitable in power supply for RF, VCOs, receivers, and amplifiers. The regulator is suitable for satellite point of load supply for FPGAs, microcontrollers, ASICs, and data converters. The thermal protection, current limit and current foldback features of the regulator make it suitable for space environment.

The Texas Instrument TPS7H2201-SP is a single channel load switch radiation hardened and suitable for space satellite power management and distribution. With a programmable slew rate, configurable rise time is provided by the component to minimize the reverse current protection and inrush current. The integrated thermal pad with the ceramic package of the component allows high power dissipation.

The Texas Instruments LM4050QML-SP is a space-graded precision voltage reference suitable for data acquisition systems, instrumentation, process control and energy management. LM4050QML-SP is packaged in a 10-Lead Ceramic CLGA and is designed to operate without the need for an external stabilizing capacitor. LM4050QML-SP is also designed to ensure stability with a capacitive load.

The Texas Instruments LM136A-2.5QML-SP is a precision 2.5V shunt regulator diode radiation-hardened, suitable for military and space applications. The third terminal on the regulator is designed to enable trimming of reference temperature and voltage easily. The regulator can be used for power supplies, op amp circuitry or digital voltmeters as a precision 2.5V low voltage reference.

The Texas Instruments UC1843B-SP is a Current Mode PWM Controller suitable for communication, optical and RADAR imaging payload applications. The component is radiation hardened and features pulse-by-pulse current limiting, trimmed oscillator discharge current, low start-up current and an internally-trimmed bandgap reference.

The Texas Instruments UC1825B-SP Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) control device is optimized for high-frequency, switched mode power supply applications. In particular, the controller has been designed to minimize propagation delays through logic circuitry and the use of comparators, while maximizing both the slew rate of the error amplifier and the operating bandwidth.

The Texas Instruments TPS7H3301-SP is a sink and source double data rate (DDR) termination regulator designed for space applications with built-in VTTREF buffer. The component is specifically designed to be a compact, low-noise solution for applications with space and weight limitations. The space DDR termination applications include solid state recorders, single board computers, and payload processing.

The Texas Instruments TPS7H4002-SP is a synchronous step down converter suitable for space satellite point of load supply for FPGAs, microcontrollers, data converters, and ASICs. The product is offered in a thermally enhanced 20-pin ceramic, dual in-line flatpack package and is integrated with high-side and low-side MOSFETs.

The Texas Instruments TPS50601-SP is a step-down converter suitable for Space Satellite Point of Load Supply for FPGAs, Microcontrollers, and ASICs. The product is radiation hardened, space-graded and is tested for on-orbit Single Event Effects (SEE) event rates in LEO and GEO using Cosmic Ray Effects on Micro-Electronics 96 (CREME96). Engineering Evaluation (/EM) Samples are available.

The Texas Instruments TPS7H4001-SP is a synchronous buck converter suitable for satellite point of load supply, communications and optical imaging payload. The converter is radiation hardened available in a thermally enhanced ceramic flatpack package with integrated low-resistance high-side and low-side MOSFETs. Current mode control helps achieve high efficiency and reduced component count.

The Texas Instruments TPS50601A-SP is a step-down converter suitable for Space Satellite Point of Load Supply for FPGAs, Microcontrollers, data converters and ASICs. The product is radiation hardened, space-graded and is tested for on-orbit Single Event Effects (SEE) event rates in LEO and GEO using Cosmic Ray Effects on Micro-Electronics 96 (CREME96).

The Texas Instruments LM137QML-SP is a 3-terminal negative voltage regulators suitable for harsh environments, precision current regulation, on-card regulation and programmable voltage regulation. The regulators require only 1 output capacitor for frequency compensation and 2 external resistors to set the output voltage. LM137 are complementary to the LM117 adjustable positive regulators.

The Texas Instruments LM117QML-SP is a 3-terminal, positive voltage linear regulator that can supply 0.5A or 1.5A over a 1.2-37V output range. The component is flight-proven, radiation-hardness-assured (RHA), and designed for simple operation, requiring only two external resistors to set the output voltage. The regulator is "floating" and sees only the input-to-output differential voltage.

The Texas Instruments LM117HVQML-SP is a 3-terminal positive voltage linear regulator radiation hardness assured, suitable for adjustable switching regulator, a programmable output regulator and precision current regulator. To set the output voltage, the regulator requires only two external resistors.

The Texas Instruments TPS7H5001-SP is a radiation-hardness-assured, current mode, dual-output Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) controller for DC-DC converters in space applications. It is optimized for both gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon (Si) semiconductor systems, and features a high switching frequency combined with low current consumption and a small physical footprint.

The Texas Instruments LM2940QML-SP is a radiation-hardness-assured (RHA) positive voltage regulator that can source 1A of output current, with a dropout voltage typically of 0.5V and a maximum of 1V, across the operating temperature range. To reduce ground current when the differential between the input and output voltage exceeds 3V (approx.), the component includes a quiescent current reduction circuit.

The Texas Instruments LM2941QML-SP is a positive voltage regulator qualified for use in military, defence and space-based applications. The regulator is originally designed for vehicular applications and the circuitry are protected from two-battery jumps or reverse battery installations.


Episode transcript

Please note that while we have endeavoured to produce a transcript that matches the audio as closely as possible, there may be slight differences in the text below. If you would like anything in this transcript clarified, or have any other questions or comments, please contact us today.


[00:00:00] Hywel: Hello everybody. I’m your host Hywel Curtis. And I’d like to welcome you to the Space Industry by satsearch, where we share stories about the companies taking us into orbit. In this podcast, we delve into the opinions and expertise of the people behind the commercial space organizations of today who could become the household names of tomorrow.

Before we get started with the episode, remember, you can find out more information about the suppliers, products, and innovations that are mentioned in this discussion on the global marketplace for space at satsearch.com.

Hello and welcome to today’s episode of the Space Industry Podcast by satsearch. I’m joined today by Adrian and Michael from Texas Instruments.

Texas Instruments is a company that I’m sure you’ve heard of, and especially if you’re in our industry. And today we’re going to be discussing how to optimize data acquisition systems in space applications, and quite a technical topic that I think has a lot of applicability to missions and, and systems of all sizes.

So firstly, Michael and Adrian, thank you very much for being here today. I wondered if you could just explain what you do at the company.


[00:01:03] Michael: Yes, hello and thanks for having us here, Hywel, Yeah. I’m Michael Seidl. I’m a systems engineer in the systems engineering and marketing group, and our team is in particular responsible for the Aerospace and defense market sector.


[00:01:18] Adrian: Hello everybody. I’m Adrian Helwig, I’m field application engineer and I’m supporting space customers in Europe.


[00:01:25] Hywel: Excellent. That’s great. Thank you guys. So, okay, let’s get into this, uh, the, the topic today of optimizing data acquisition systems. Now, Earth observation applications, as we know, are kind of driving up the requirements on components because they need higher data rates and as always in space, they’re looking for low power consumption and smaller physical footprints.

Even when there are large optical instruments with large apertures, other aspects of the entire system, they still want to minimize the, uh, the physical size. Every satellite has complex requirements in terms of telemetry, as we know is that’s defined by the nature of space.

What are the compromises that you see designers facing when it comes to developing, you know, solutions for data acquisition systems? Where are the trade-offs that have to be made, or what limits are we seeing in the industry today?


[00:02:11] Michael: I think the very fundamental decision criteria is really the radiation hardness level that probably comes before we look at size, weight, and power and cost. And, uh, the radiation hardness levels is where many of the customers or many designs really are focused towards the higher earth orbits or geo stationary orbit or deep space missions.

And this is where it’s typically no room for compromise at all for designers and just have to pick the so-called QMLV-RHA products, even though they. Very expensive. And there’s also limited choices they can do there. Now for the low Earth orbit, also the all they call the LEO missions, there is indeed the opportunity to go with something that is lower in radiation hardness.

And here, of course, still the commercial off the shelf devices are still not a good choice in such applications unless the day in the orbit is planned for very short period and the total cost of the satellite allows you even to for a potential loss of it. So LEO emissions designers then typically prefer the so-called radiation tolerance products over the more expensive radiation hardened product.

Still, it’s not that trivial. Also, in the lower orbits, right, the satellites operating in the low earth orbits, they fly a lot faster than the earth rotation and and pass multiple times per day from full exposure to the sun, into the cold shadow side of the earth and back. And this is where the commercial of the shelfs devices are simply not made for such extreme and permanent temperature cycling.

Right, and then also, right, of course, in LEO you have lower radiation levels than in the GEO areas, but, but still, right? When you compare this to Earth, in on Earth, you have really the full protection or a lot of protection from the magnetic earth fields and from the atmosphere. That is in the LEO space, not the case that much.

And this is where radiation tolerant devices really are still required. And this is where TI office here classification called the Space Enhanced Plastics or SEP in shorts. So that was now the very general answer and is applicable to any type of design.


[00:04:31] Adrian: Yes, Michael. So this was general, but I think it does also apply for the data acquisition system.


[00:04:38] Michael: yeah. Yes, of course. Right. So it’s like for any design, so, but you’re right. Let’s look into the specifics of the data acquisition design itself. So for the data acquisition circuit, designers do typically start with defining their requirements for the analog to digital converter is this is typically the, the most expensive and also the most powering hungry device in the data precision system.

Especially for telemetry and health monitoring, satellites typically require a very high number of signals to be monitored and in order now to avoid that, each signal requires its own ADC designers to typically add multiplexers. And in many cases, such multiplexers are already integrated into the ADC.

For example, at TI, our 12-bit ADC ADS128S102-SP comes with an integrated 8-channel multiplexer and is very popular in such applications.


[00:05:36] Hywel: Right. Fantastic. Thanks. That’s a really good introduction. Um, I just wanted to say quickly for the, uh, for the listeners, you don’t need to remember ADS128S102-SP.

Okay. Um, we will include these in the, uh, show notes of the, of the episode and, um, on the satsearch blog, we’ll also link to the, any of the products mentioned. By name and, and so you can see the product page. Uh, so, uh, yeah, don’t, don’t wear out your pencil writing down the, the codes. Um, but yeah. So as I mentioned, this is a, a, a really good overview of the overall kind of data acquisition needs of the system, and especially explaining the needs of the ADC. But what about the rest of the, um, of the signal chain itself?


[00:06:22] Adrian: Yes. That’s also very interesting topic and I think designers needs to consider here a very different cases, right? So, and in our portfolio we have a lot of products, different products, very well known for various reasons. So let me give you an example, like the OPA4277-SP.

It’s very well known device because it has a very wide supply range. Um, very good, uh, signal, uh, conditioning performance, and also very low offset voltage and drift, right? Another example could be the LMP7704-SP. This is again, a very good choice when interfacing precision sensors with high output impedance.

And, um, this device for examples an ultra-low input bias of less than ±500 fA. And, uh, it can also be used for different configurations like transducers, uh, bridge configurations, strain gauge, and also trans-impedance amplification.


[00:07:34] Michael: Yes, Adrian. Fully agree. LMP7704-SP is a great choice in many cases. But, in contrary to the LMP7704-SP, there are also amplifiers that are very specific to a single use case such shunt current sensing.

For example, there is a dedicated current sense amplifier available from TI called INA240-SEP. This device compromises enhanced PWM rejection and can sense drops across shunt resistors over a wide common-mode voltage range, in this case from –4 V to 80 V, and this is independent of the supply voltage. It has a strong voltage gain of 20 and maximum gain error of 0.2%.


[00:08:17] Adrian: Okay, Yes. Uh, thanks Michael. I fully agree with you. So already for a topic of, of sensor interface, there are a lot of choices to be made already. Now, during the operation time of the satellite there are situation where supply voltage level or current level, if rising too fast, could destroy the system. Therefore, it is important that the system reacts fast.

A classic data acquisition system with ADC and MCU included in the signal chain is often too slow in such cases. Designers must typically implement a comparator in the analog domain to enable a fast response to the problem. Within our portfolio we have TLV1704-SEP which offers rail-to-rail inputs and low propagation delay of 560ns. In addition, with the open collector stage the output can be pulled to any voltage rail up to 36 V above the negative power supply, regardless of the TLV1704-SEP supply voltage. With this device, customers are really very flexible to handle almost every application.


[00:09:45] Hywel: What are the sort of bottleneck that you see designers facing in areas such as, you know, with Earth observation applications when it comes to applications like the telemetry system?


[00:09:54] Adrian: Yeah, that’s a very good question. Well, there are several aspects of those challenges, and I can mention maybe two of them. On the one hand side, uh, the achievable technical performance of the system is very important. But on the other side, there is also adaptability to different orbit requirements. This means LEO or geo constellations and their radiation requirements.

So if we now talk about the technical performance, When designers are thinking about that acquisition systems, they always need to fulfill some kind of SNR performance of this system, right? And this is because the, data acquisition system is obviously the heart of the whole system. And now, because the final resolution of the ADC also depends on several other factors like, uh, clock jitter, reference voltage accuracy, input stage configuration, power supply rejection ratio, all those aspects needs to be considered, uh, during design process.

If we look now at the specific products, for example, if 12bit resolution is sufficient our very well-known 12bit, 8 channels, 1MSPS ADC128S102QML-SP can be used, but in some cases, like for example optical payloads or satellite sensor signal acquisition systems, finer resolution is needed and we see that customers more and more that this finer resolution is really a requirements. And this could be because they need to monitor temperature more accurately, or they need a finer resolution for position feedback.

If that is the case we are also offering ADS1278-SP, which is 24bit, delta-sigma, 8 channels simultaneous sampling precision ADC or ADS1282-SP, which is also delta-sigma converter, but the resolution is even higher and goes up to 31bit.


[00:12:30] Michael: Right? And, and for such high resolution data conversion, it’s also very important to provide a super clean reference voltage to the adc. And interesting implementation I want to mention here could be like using a shunt reference such, for example, a LM 40 50 QL Dashs P, followed by a so-called composite amplifier where you could use the high impedance amplifier LMP 77 0 4 again, as we mentioned before, and combine that one with the LMH 66 20 which is a very fast and super low noise amplifier and such configuration kind of combines the best out of two worlds then for you.


[00:13:12] Adrian: Yeah, fully agree, Michael. And let me add something else here. So another important aspect that we need to think about is also to fit the input signal to the ADC with the best possible quality.

So we need to think about parameters like noise suppression amplitude and linearity. So we at TI, we developed fully differential amplifiers such as the LMH 54 85, and this device provides to customers very high unity gain bandwidth for best possible linearity suppression of any common mode noise. due to the differential architecture and on top of this, this device also offers a very low current consumption of only 11 milliamps.

There is also another important point to mention here in case the input signal is coming from a passive sensor. So in other words, the signal source is, uh, high impedance in nature. Here the LMP7704-SP would be once again a good choice. For active sensors such as CCD sensors in imaging applications one could feed the signal directly into the differential amplifier LMH5485-SP.

Now for active sensors, like for example, uh, CCD sensors in imaging applications, uh, you could feed the signal directly to the differential amplifiers like the LMH5485  we talked about.


[00:14:59] Michael: Right. And yes, Adrian explained with this, we have built now a great data acquisition system for all kind of specific use cases.

But now let’s also talk about the, the second item that Adrian introduced in the beginning was about the design adaptability. This is what we mean with this, is that designers typically want to prepare the solution for the different orbit requirements. Uh, so. Simplified way. Just develop one board, one design, and then simply adapt it by only exchanging individual components according to your mission requirements and to help that Texas Instruments is offering the whole range of space related products.

ADC128S102-SP is also offered as ADC128S102-SEP. As said, the SEP stands for Space Enhanced Plastic – This is a version with lower radiation performance, minimum of 30krad and 43MeV and plastic package opposed to its ceramic package sister device which ha the 100krad and 120MeV, fairly high radiation tolerance which you need typically in your higher orbit missions.


[00:16:24] Adrian: By the way, uh, let me add something so that the LMH5485-SP I just mentioned before does also exist as a -SEP version. There is also much more, but the important point is that the complete data acquisition system is covered by Texas Instruments in -SP and -SEP flavor.


[00:16:52] Hywel: Right. Okay. Yeah, it’s amazing. Discover, you know, how much is involved in these decisions that need to be made at the, uh, at this level in order to create an effective data acquisition system and, and overcome these, uh, typical challenges. And, uh, very pleased you touched on both performance and adaptability cuz as, as mentioned earlier, I think both things are becoming so much defining so much of the decisions that need to be made by satellite designers and, and satellite operators.

And, and ultimately they are related to the business cases of, of the end users. So that’s great. And, uh, just to remind, uh, the audience again, that we will, uh, be linking to all of the products mentioned in this audio, so you, you’ll be able to find out more information about, about those.

So we’ve talked about how to develop a, you know, a really high performing data acquisition system, and you’ve mentioned how it would be adaptable to different areas as well, however, Obviously in space, things that don’t always go quite as planned, and they’re a data acquisition system and the components that are, that are in it will be interfacing or could potentially be affected by lots of the other, uh, systems in the satellite or the behavior, the satellite itself.

So how good are the, um, fault detection and fault tolerance systems being used today in some of the applications that we’ve discussed. And do you see there being, you know, plenty of room for improvement in the next generation of missions or missions and services that are in, in development?


[00:18:20] Adrian: Yeah. That’s very interesting. So in space developments, obviously there is a great focus on making the technology highly robust against the harsh environment, right? There is always a chance that something breaks in the system and uh, it could be a fatal single event effect, or it could be even a generic component failure. So now designers, they add a lot of monitoring and diagnostics capabilities into the system.

And they are also trying to develop, uh, recovery strategies such as, uh, controlled power of or, um, of the affected system to switch to the redundant component, for example. Uh, but like in every industry, um, the circuits, um, get more and more complex with every new generation of the products. This brings an exponential growth of potential failure mechanisms. Designers must make sure that any failure scenario is properly identified, understood and its impact mitigated. Components with integrated fault detection and fault mitigation technology bring very high value in this topic.


[00:19:49] Michael: Right, right. Yeah. Maybe, uh, I, I could add here an example on that out of the power management, here’s the TPS7H4001-SP, which is a rad-hard 18-A, synchronous step-down converter and comes with several protection features such as: under-voltage lock-out, over-current protection, over-voltage protection or thermal shutdown.

The great thing about having those things integrated is not only the PCB space savings but also the aspect of easy-to-use in terms of dimensioning the design margins and thresholds.


[00:20:27] Hywel: Michael, can I just ask, are these, are those four the most common sort of failures that would need to accounted for?


[00:20:34] Michael: I would think these are common challenges in, in, in power designs that you fear a too high current, a too high voltage, obviously, but also the too low voltage because you cannot turn your transistors on properly anymore.

And, and of course as a result of whatever happens, a thermal issue may arise and you need to at that as the last resort have to shut it before your semiconductor would die? Yes. Okay.


[00:21:00] Hywel: Yeah. Sorry. Yeah, sorry to interrupt.


[00:21:03] Michael: No worries. No thanks. Glad to clarify. Yeah, I think this, this dimensioning, right?

This is what people need to get under control and you have to be tight enough, right? But you also don’t want to be too loose or you have to kind of be loose enough because otherwise you get a lot of false alarms. Right. If you overdo it and, and this is not a trivial task today, they find the right threshold because you must consider also the right temperature range and also the drifts of the component parameters over time, as you’re permanently exposed to this high radiation that makes kind of, it turns aging on your device as it’s up there. And this is where the such a device like the TPS7H4001-SP, it really simplifies this task significantly and provides such capabilities in the most optimized way already.


[00:21:56] Adrian: Great example. And I can even add another interesting example, and that’s product on this topic is our eFuse solution TPS7H2211-SP, with voltage range of 14-V and 3.5-A current handling capability. It is an integrated load switch with additional features that provides: reverse current protection, overvoltage protection, and a configurable rise time to minimize inrush current (so called soft start). It can be either placed into the power tree to protect any circuitry downstream or it could also be used as a switch between redundant components or modules in the system, for the case one of them would turn into a fault state. There is also a sister device TPS7H2201-SP comes even with a programmable current limiting trip and retry capability.


[00:23:01] Michael: Right, Adrian? Yeah. Great examples. Thanks for bringing them up. Let me also add one from the digital side, what you, uh, it’s really typically more cost sensitive LEO constellations. There’s also the strength towards MCU based implementations. As the radiation hardened FPGAs are typically very expensive.

Our customers look here now for alternatives, and now overall whether such digital systems are FPGA based or MCU based. The topic of fault detection and fault mitigation becomes even more important here. Has to do with just these large memories and larger, additional circuits just have an increased risk of an error caused by radiation simply to their larger size and higher complexity.

And accordingly, the semiconductor process technology must be improved, uh, here for the best possible radiation hardness. Uh, here an example, TI’s MSP30 MCU is based on FRAM memory technology which is a lot more robust against radiation than the traditional Flash and SRAM technologies used in most MCU products on the market.

TMS570LC4357-SEP offers very strong diagnostic and fault detection and fault mitigation capability. Its architecture is a grounds-up functional safety design. Its heritage comes from automotive and was designed in accordance to ISO 26262 functional safety standard. Now, at first glance you may wonder if an automotive safety concept is really applicable to space applications. But let me assure you it really makes sense as all these functional safety standards pursue a very similar objective which is ‘freedom of unacceptable risk’. Exactly what we also want for any of our space missions.


[00:25:05] Hywel: Yeah, that makes sense. I was just going to ask, Yeah, for clarification on that. I mean, visions of Elon Musk’s Tesla in the, in the Starship. So, um, yeah. There’s a lot that goes into it. I mean, you’ve just covered a whole variety of topics just on the fault detection side of things and, and diagnostics when you need to consider the individual fault, you know, identification and mitigation performance of, of the components, how the components are even assembled together, how tightly they packed the things like thermal effects or electronic effects between components and, and obviously the, as you mentioned, their performance over time.

The, the drift in the, the parameters, the ability to insert specific fault s witches, uh, you know, fault mitigation switches, uh, at different parts of the power tree. There’s a, and then the digital side of things as well. There’s so many, uh, factors and variables that go into these decisions. And I wonder, are there any tools or methods you, you might suggest people could use, designers can use for, to like more quickly evaluate the different architectures and, and make decisions.

I mean, particularly when it comes to achieving their original design goals for, uh, acquiring data in, in certain mission.


[00:26:19] Adrian: Yes, there are several tools and methods we can offer to accelerate the customer decision process as well as to predict the achievable system performance.

One of the very well-known tools on the market is the design and simulation tool PSpice®. Texas Instruments is offering a free version of PSpice for customers. In addition, we are also releasing unencrypted Spice-Models for our components and those are available directly from ti.com.

With that customers can, for example model the complete input stage of the ADC and for example, compare different configurations.

After that, when the proof of concept is successful and real hardware measurements are required we can offer Evaluation modules and reference designs for most of our components, and those are also very often available directly from TI-store.

With that, real performance measurements are possible and if needed the system can be modified and adjusted to reach the expected performance.


[00:27:51] Hywel: And I assume you can model their different conditions and different applications.


[00:27:56] Adrian: Correct, you can. You can change and adjust to your specific needs.


[00:28:00] Hywel: Brilliant. Okay. Okay. Makes sense.


[00:28:01] Michael: Right. Yeah. And, and If customers want to complement their knowledge or seeking for ideas solving design challenges I can recommend to check our E2E-Forum.

In the E2E-Forum engineers, both from TI and from customers, discuss possible solutions. In addition, TI’s web page is offering thousands of Application notes and White Papers for very wide topic selection.

In order to find information about space application customers can visit TI’s application page for ‘space’ via https://www.ti.com/space/ and review specific application pages like for example the page for Command & data handling or for Optical imaging payload and many more.

By visiting our reference-design page and selecting space, customers can find complete reference designs according to their needs. A good example is here our reference design for satellite health monitoring with several implementations for current, voltage or temperature monitoring. All with an accuracy better than 1%.

This design is available under TIDA-010197. Customers get access to the complete design guide, test results, explanations on component choices and also how the designs was configured so customers can quickly adapt to their needs. And of course we also provide here the full design materials, like the schematics, bill of material and even Gerber files.


[00:29:56] Adrian: Something else came, came to my mind. Michael, if you’re talking about this, let me add something else. if someone is looking for circuit ideas I can recommend to look into our Spacecraft Circuit Design Handbook available from ti.com which provides sub-circuit ideas that you can quickly adapt to meet your specific system needs.

Each circuit is presented as a “definition by example.” It includes step-by-step instructions, like a recipe, with formulas enabling you to adapt the circuit to meet your design goals. Additionally, all circuits are verified with simulations.


[00:30:51] Hywel: Okay, brilliant. We’ll include links to all of those, uh, resources you’ve just shared, uh, in the show notes, obviously to help, uh, all the readers out there. I think, um, part of our mission at satsearch has always been to open up the, uh, the information in the industry to more people from as many companies as we can and, and to try and democratize access to that information and just help her bring forward the entire industry in that way.

And I think, um, there are now so many missions that can be analyzed and relied upon. To give people a better start when designing new systems, subsystems, circuits, missions, whatever it is. So it’s great that at ti you’ve also invested in, in making that information available to people. I think there’s no need to start with a blank piece of paper anymore when there’s been so many CubeSat missions and, and missions of all levels.

So that’s fantastic. And like I say, we’ll share, we’ll share all of that with the, the listeners. I think. Uh, yeah. Finally, we’ve touched. Well, pretty much all of the technical topics. Uh, and to bring it kind of back to looking to the future, cuz we see there’s so many, um, options out there now to optimize the data acquisition systems.

But, um, thinking more generally about how trends are moving and, and we talk about all the time, the importance of swap, see budgets, size, weight, power, and cost. How these trends are, moving, how these trends are changing in the next three to five years, uh, when it comes to data acquisition systems, in space applications, particularly as we mentioned, with the increased use of high data rates.

What is it that designers need to watch out for what’s coming, you know, what’s coming online that they could access, or what potential issues are there that they need to, to be thinking about as, as the industry progresses?


[00:32:29] Adrian: Yeah, that’s, uh, that’s a very good question. Obviously one trend we see making very big impact on size, weight, power, and cost is the availability and use of devices in plastic packages.

As you know, traditional QMLV devices are in ceramic packages which are physically larger and heavier than the more common commercial plastic packages today.

TI has been working with our customers, the space community, and government agencies such as the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) or ESA to create new standards that will allow for the use of plastic packages and substrates in space applications.

TI’s first space developments with plastic packages came with the introduction of our radiation tolerant Space-EP portfolio.  This was really an answer to customer needs looking for lower cost space devices as a solution for the higher volumes of Low Earth Orbit satellites or New Space.

The challenge was to find a solution that was not only low cost, but also smaller size, lower weight, which, uh, which is obviously reducing launch cost, and, uh, meet the lower radiation requirements of the LEO orbit.

If you think about this, plastic packages were a great choice because we could leverage the scale of the semiconductor supply chain to reduce cost and provide a smaller overall solution.

In our space EP portfolio, we now have 20 devices in production or sampling with many more in development.


[00:34:33] Michael: Yeah. And then as the industry become more, more accepting of plastic packages, we also notice the need for devices with plastic packages, uh, that really meet the, uh, rad hard requirements. So TI worked with the Defence Logistics Agency (DLA) to develop the new QML Class P standard and the updated QML Class Y standard which should be ratified by the end of 2022 (or early 2023).

Similarly, ESA has developed the new ESCC9000P standard which closely matches QMLP.

These new standards allow for plastic encapsulated package in the case of QMLP or organic substrates in the case of QMLY.

We already have devices in development to meet these new standards. Since the plastic packages can be much smaller, they also have an added benefit of allowing for higher performance devices and high performance in, in several ways.

So, maybe just lemme give two examples. Uh, like the one is, Uh, where overall, right, the smaller package means shorter bond wires, or even no bond wires for flip chip devices, and therefore less parasitic inductance and resistance.

So on the examples on, in on power, right, this means you can make a more efficient power device, uh, which then potentially reduces the need for additional thermal management in the satellite. Or in the case of RF, right? It allows you to run things at even higher frequencies that way.

And the other benefit is like our, since the development time for plastic packages is shorter, we are able to release more modern devices to the market quicker allowing for more innovation is space.


[00:36:45] Adrian: Yeah, that’s totally true, Michael. We are continually releasing new, more modern and more efficient devices into market. Let me give you an example. We already talked about the analog to digital converter, ADS1278-SP analog to digital converter operates at less than 20mW per channel.

Similarly, our MSP430FR5969-SP microcontroller with even sixteen 12-bit ADC channels integrated consumes less than 9mW in active mode and less than 0.7uW in shutdown mode Another example: our TMP461-SP is a fully integrated digital temp sensing solution operating at ~1mW for a conversion and 50uW in standby mode.

These devices give satellite designers the flexibility to pack more features into the same power envelope on the spacecraft compare to that what was possible in the past when using older or more discrete circuits.


[00:38:04] Hywel: Right. Fantastic. Which for so many designers is the goal. And, uh, as we’re seeing Yeah, new innovative payloads being developed that needs a, a certain architecture based around them.

This is the sort of designer considerations that will need to be increasingly made in order to cope with that. So, um, Thank you very much. I think that’s a great place to, to wrap up. I think, um, you guys have shared some really useful information today. I think for anybody. Look at their looking to optimize their data acquisition system.

It’s very clear from, you know, that the component level and, and circuit level that the, the TI’s experience with and, and product lines that have precision analog, uh, signal chain solutions, you know, give you the authority to, to speak on the subject and covered many of the different factors and problems that can crop up.

And, and that’s really useful. And then obviously we’ve looked at full system solutions from, you know, actual data acquisition to processing, response generation, and obviously everything that goes into the whole monitoring and diagnostics. I think that was very interesting for people to consider. It’s not just about how the, uh, system is put together and optimized in the clean room.

It’s about how it works in space and deals with problems, you know, on orbit, but, and, um, Yeah. Finally, as I’ve mentioned when we talked about it, I think the, uh, the work that, that TI is doing to help designers make better decisions or start in a start further along the process when they’re doing their own designs are really useful.

And, and we’ll share the links to, to the various resources you have to help people deal with the compromises that are forced on them by the environment of space, and by their own SWAP-C budgets. So, um, I’d like to thank yeah, both of you for, for spending time with us on The Space Industry podcast. Really appreciate all the insights you provided today.


[00:39:52] Michael: Yeah, thank you very much. Thank you. Our pleasure.


[00:39:56] Hywel: Great, thanks. And to all our listeners out there, thank you too for, uh, spending time with us on the Space Industry Podcast today. As I mentioned, we will have lots of, uh, links and resources for you in the show notes about Texas Instruments, and you can find out more about all of the products and innovations and the information they provide at those links.

So thank you very much and we look forward to seeing you next time.

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Space Industry by satsearch. I hope you enjoyed today’s story about one of the companies taking us into orbit. We’ll be back soon with more in depth behind the scenes insights from private space businesses. In the meantime, you can go to sat search.com for more information on the space industry today, or find us on social media if you have any questions or comments.

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