Research Projects

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

Digital Interface Circuit Evaluation

The work at Dundee on SpaceWire began with the Digital Interface Circuit Evaluation (DICE) contract from ESA for which Dundee was prime contractor, with support from Dornier Satellitensysteme in Germany (now EADS Astrium GmbH) and Patria Finavitec Oy in Finland. This research project initially considered the drivers and receiver devices that should be used with IEEE-1355 devices for space applications.  It then examined cables and connectors and reviewed the IEEE-1355 standard. Deficiencies in IEEE-1355 were identified and overcome, eventually resulting in the SpaceWire standard.

Advanced Payload Processing

The ESA Advanced Payload Processing study aimed to develop a highly modular payload processing architecture for use on future satellites. The Space Systems Research Group at Dundee provided consultancy support to the prime contractor Dornier Satellitensysteme (now Astrium GmbH) for this study in the areas of multi-processor DSP systems and routing switch architectures for SpaceWire.

Real-Time Embedded CORBA over SpaceWire (RECS)

To investigate effective DSP processor to SpaceWire integration, the University of Dundee has developed a DSP board using one of the latest DSP processors from Analog Devices and a SpaceWire router. The SpaceWire DSP board comprises an eight-port SpaceWire router connected to an Analog Devices 21160 SHARC (Super-Harvard ARChitecture) DSP processor. The 21160 processor has six SHARC links which are high-speed, half-duplex, bi-directional, point-to-point communication links designed to connect together several SHARC processors in a parallel processing array. These links form the bridge between the SHARC processor and the SpaceWire router. Data to be sent out from the DSP processor are formed into SpaceWire packets with an appropriate destination address header and the cargo (i.e. the data to be sent in the packet). The packet is then transmitted across the SHARC link to the SpaceWire router with an end of packet marker code being appended to the packet. Data is received in a similar way with the SpaceWire packet being transferred across the SHARC link.

Proof of Concept for "Software Developer's Right Hand"

The Software Developer's Right Hand is an innovative software development support environment which aims to improve software development productivity, software quality and software maintainability, and with automated documentation support. The project is funded by Scottish Enterprise through their Proof of Concept Programme.

SpaceWire Router ETD031

Details coming soon.

Multi-Purpose Vision Navigation

Details coming soon.


Details coming soon.

PANGU Asteroids and Whole Planet Simulation

Simulated Asteroid

The PANGU Asteroid and Whole Planet Simulation study extended the capabilities of the PANGU tool to include the realistic generation and visualisation of complete asteroids and the simulation of entire planets to be viewed from orbital distances.

Additional research to enhance the rendering speed of PANGU and to increase the size of terrain that can be modelled within PANGU was successfully completed. This work introduced support for rendering models with the ROAM algorithm and the addition of a dedicated memory management system to allow unused portions of a model to be unloaded from memory.


Various ESA planetary lander missions (e.g. Euromoon 2000) were being considered that required a lander guidance system. A vision-based navigation system had been proposed and prototyped in the ESA 3D Planetary Modelling study led by Joanneum Research (Austria), in which Steve Parkes was involved. The prototype used a physical terrain mock-up and a robotic arm holding a camera, to simulate the descent of a lander towards the lunar surface. Steve Parkes realised that an alternative simulation method was required because of the cost and time taken to build different lunar surfaces. A computer simulation of the lunar surface and camera could be used to provide realistic lunar surface images for testing the vision-based navigation system. Steve received a small contract from ESA to prove the concept and a prototype planet surface simulation system was developed. LunarSim showed that realistic cratered terrain models could be created using fractal techniques. An almost unlimited variety of lunar surfaces could be generated automatically and used for extensive testing of vision-based lander navigation systems.


The LIDAR-LAPS research is being undertaken as a sub-contractor to EADS Astrium SAS. The aim of this work is to extend PANGU scanning LIDAR sensor to support a different type of scanning pattern from the LIDAR-GNC and LIDAR-ILT projects. The LAPS system consists of a laser which emits pulses every 100 μs asynchronously to two oscillating mirrors controlling the beam direction in azimuth and elevation. The two mirrors scan the field of view driven by independent triangle waves. As with the LIDAR-GNC and LIDAR-ILT projects, the sensor simulation takes into account spacecraft motion during the scanning interval.