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FPGA design for on-board measurement of intermittency from in-situ satellite data
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  • Norbert Deak,
  • Octavian Creț,
  • Costel Munteanu,
  • Eliza Teodorescu,
  • Marius Echim
Norbert Deak
Computer Science Department, Technical University
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Octavian Creț
Computer Science Department, Technical University
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Costel Munteanu
Institute of Space Science
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Eliza Teodorescu
Institute of Space Science - INFLPR Subsidiary
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Marius Echim
Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy

Corresponding Author:marius.echim@oma.be

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Intermittency is a fundamental property of space plasma dynamics, characterizing turbulent dynamical variables as well as passive scalars. Its qualitative and quantitative description from in-situ data requires an accurate estimation of the probability density functions (PDFs) of fluctuations and their moments, particularly the flatness, a normalized fourth order moment of the PDF. Such a statistical description needs a sufficiently large number of samples to be meaningful. Due to inherent technological limitations (e.g. limited telemetry bandwidth) not all samples collected on-board the spacecraft can be sent to the ground for further analysis. Therefore, a technology designed to process on-board the data and to compute the flatness is useful to fully exploit the capabilities of scientific instruments installed on robotic platforms, including nanosatellites. We designed, built and tested in laboratory such a technology based on Field Programable Gate Arrays (FPGA) . The solution uses the FloPoCo framework with customized arithmetic operators; the computation block is a pipelined architecture which computes a new value of the flatness in each clock cycle. The design and implementation achieves optimization directives of the FPGA resources relevant for operation in space, like area, energy efficiency, and precision. The technology was tested in laboratory using Xilinx SRL16 or SRLC32 macros and provides correct results validated with test time series provided by magnetic field data collected in the solar wind by ACE spacecraft. The characteristics and performance of the laboratory prototype pave the way for a space qualified version.
Dec 2021Published in Earth and Space Science volume 8 issue 12. 10.1029/2021EA001678