Space Micro Inc. and GSI Technology, Inc. propose the development of a optimal real-time data sorting inference processing unit (IPU) board for Earth observation missions with a need for higher processing power. This computer will have the ability to plug into the main communication bus and offers enhanced parallel processing power, much to the effect of a supercomputer cluster. The main system would have the ability to reconfigure this IPU device to scale up and down, specifying a specific state depending on the needs of the current task. If one desires, performance limitations can be enforced on the parallel processing unit. For added performance and redundancy, multiple processors will be included on the same board, with the capability to stack multiple units together.
As sensors are quickly advancing, they are producing large quantities of data which is revealing the critical downsides of space based platforms: 1) they require large amounts of mission data and calibration data to be downlinked, and 2) their data products cannot be conveyed in near real-time. Both of these issues can be resolved with the use of high performance processors (Mou et al., 2017). Modern satellites are constantly increasing their abilities to acquire large datasets quickly and efficiently, but this is also proving to be a hindrance.
The goal of this proposal, and its subsequent technologies, is to begin the transition from sensor design to mission capabilities through the development of highly integrated, intelligent computational systems.
The cross-cutting radiation tolerant space on-board data processing product evolving from this SBIR has the potential to add value to and enable many potential NASA space missions. Some of these future NASA missions include Lucy, Psyche, IXPE, Restore, Hermes, Whipple, TiME, Hera, Chopper, etc. which encompass both Discovery-class and SMEX missions. The NASA Artemis program including both manned (HLS) and unmanned landers and experiments, plus orbital Gateway are potential candidates.
This product can be scaled for a wide range of customers, including emerging commercial constellations for space-based Internet service and Earth observation data (OneWeb, Amazon/Kuiper, Starlink, etc.). There are many DoD (Space Force, Air Force, SDA, U.S. Army SMDC, SOCOM, SPAWAR, MDA, NRO) space applications, including a growing DoD interest in the cislunar domain.