Research Projects

All the research projects that the Space Technology Centre has been involved in are described below:

PANGU Enhancement

The PANGU Enhancement project for ESA is led by the Space Technology Centre. The aim is to provide a tool which is able to support the design of advanced navigation and hazard avoidance techniques based on vision, lidar and/or radar altimeter sensors.

SpaceWire Internet Tunnel Server

Although the SpaceWire Internet Tunnel Software can be successfully used to perform virtual satellite integration, corporate firewalls can introduce problems which stop Tunnel clients in separate locations from connecting. The SpaceWire Tunnel Server software was developed to avoid these problems. Rather than connecting directly to one another, both clients instead connect to a Tunnel Server, avoiding the restrictions of their firewalls.

SpaceWire Internet Tunnel Improvements

SpaceWire Internet Tunnel Improvements

The SpaceWire Internet Tunnel and Protocol Analyser was developed in an earlier project to provide a method of performing virtual satellite integration. The aim of this project was to improve on the original software, adding improvements identified by users and the original developers.

TopNet Pilot Activity

The TopNet Pilot Activity was an ESA project which followed on from the SpaceWire Internet Tunnel project. This first project proved that virtual satellite integration was possible; the Pilot Activity aimed to evaluate the SpaceWire Internet Tunnel and Protocol Analyser in real experiments. Three different consortia were formed; each consortium made up of geographically separated partners. After familiarising themselves with the SpaceWire Internet Tunnel and Protocol Analyser, the users then performed experiments to evaluate both the Internet Tunnel and the virtual satellite integration concept.

SpaceWire Support

SpaceWire Demonstration System

The SpaceWire Support project consisted of a number of activities including:

  • Development of the SpaceWire PETRI Application
  • Assisting in the definition of the SpaceWire RMAP protocol and development of a software implementation
  • Definition of the CCSDS SIOS TCONS protocols
  • Development of a SpaceWire Onboard Application Demonstration
  • Investigation of SpaceWire physical layer issues

SpaceWire Internet Tunnel and Protocol Analyser

SpaceWire-IP Tunnel

The main aim of the SpaceWire Internet Tunnel and Protocol Analyser project was to provide support for remote, decentralised integration of SpaceWire-based satellite onboard data-handling sub-systems using the Internet to connect the geographically separated sub-systems. This can be summarised in the term "virtual satellite integration". The SpaceWire Internet Tunnel is a hardware and software solution developed to achieve this. It replaces a SpaceWire link with two PCs connected over the Internet. All traffic crossing the link at one end is seen at the other end, while the link status (e.g. running or disconnected) is also represented.

Other aims of the project included the monitoring of traffic crossing the Tunnel and a means to analyse higher layer protocols crossing the Tunnel. The SpaceWire Protocol Analyser was developed as an addition to the SpaceWire Internet Tunnel Software to allow the traffic crossing the Tunnel to be monitored in various ways.

SpaceWire CUBA Software

SpaceWire CUBA Software

The SpaceWire CUBA Software, or SpaceWire SpaceCube Analysis Software, was developed for JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. They required some software to interface with their SpaceCube devices, small cubes containing a processor and a SpaceWire interface.

The purpose of the software is to provide a command-line interface from which both raw SpaceWire packets and RMAP commands can be sent and replies received. The ability to execute command scripts containing lists of commands to be performed was also required.

SpaceWire Conformance Tester

The SpaceWire Conformance Tester project was done as a sub-contractor to Austrian Aerospace. The project designed and built a hardware unit with associated software to probe the conformance of SpaceWire devices with respect to the SpaceWire standard. The unit under test is treated as a black box with no knowledge of the internal structure or protocols and is accessed via a single SpaceWire link.


The Data Bus Techniques for Upgraded Services (DABUTUS) study was led by M3-Systems in Toulouse with Dundee as a sub-contractor. The DABUTUS contract was intended to provide support for the international CCSDS standardisation work on spacecraft onboard interfaces.

The main activities that Dundee were responsible for were:

Visual Monitoring System

The Visual Monitoring System (VMS) study defined the requirements, architecture and development plan for a camera to be used in a wide range of applications onboard a spacecraft. The University of Dundee provided support to Astrium UK and OIP in the application definition, requirements analysis and architectural design of the VMS. An important outcome of this research was the use of SpaceWire as a communication network within a modular camera, as well as using SpaceWire as the image output and camera control interface.