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.


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.


PANGU simulated Martian surface

PANGU simulated Martian surface

The LIDAR-GNC research was done as a sub-contractor to EADS Astrium SAS. The aim of this work was to extend PANGU to cover realistic Martian surface generation including boulders and sand dunes and to simulate a scanning LIDAR sensing the Martian terrain. The LIDAR sensor simulation is capable of simulating a range of scanning LIDAR instruments and takes into account spacecraft motion during the scanning interval. PANGU models and the LIDAR simulation have been integrated in a guidance and navigation control system prototype by Astrium.

RMAP Standard

Details coming soon.


Details coming soon.

SpaceWire-10X Testing

The aim of the SpaceWire-10X Testing project is to test the SpaceWire-10X Router ASIC device under various conditions to ensure there are no problems with the device. This involves the development of a test environment in which it is possible to stress the SpW-10x's operation. Appropriate tests have been devised and these will be performed and the results analysed.

HARVD: High-integrity, Autonomous, multi-range RendezVous and Docking

HARVD VRML Satellite Model

HARVD VRML Satellite Model

The overall objective of the HARVD (High-integrity, Autonomous, multi-range RendezVous & Docking) study is to develop a European capability for autonomous orbital rendezvous and docking. The detailed design of a high-integrity, autonomous, multi-range, rendezvous and docking control system is being developed for future solar system exploration missions. A demonstration system including the onboard GNC hardware and software components is being developed. Its real-time performance and autonomous operation is being evaluated covering far-field to terminal rendezvous. Two types of mission are being examined: planetary sample return and associated rendezvous of return capsule with orbiting Earth return vehicle, and in-orbit servicing of both cooperative and non-cooperative spacecraft.

SpaceWire CODEC Support

The SpaceWire CODEC Support project is aimed to provide updates and support for end users of the SpaceWire CODEC IP. The IP is a synthesisable VHDL model of the SpaceWire data strobe encoder decoder maintained by the University of Dundee, originally developed under the SpaceWire router ASIC project.