Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

NASA team develops modular avionics systems for small missions
by Lori J. Keesey for GSFC News
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Feb 27, 2017

Goddard technologist Noosha Haghani holds one of many electronics cards, which she and her team designed for a new avionics system called MUSTANG. MUSTANG has been baselined for two upcoming NASA missions. Credits: NASA/W. Hrybyk

In just two years' time, a team of NASA engineers accomplished what some thought impossible: the group created a smaller, more capable "brain" for smaller spacecraft.

Led by Project Manager and Chief Engineer Noosha Haghani, who works at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the team leveraged years of knowledge gained during the development of NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, or MMS, to design a significantly smaller electronics system.

Dubbed MUSTANG, short for the Modular Unified Space Technology Avionics for Next Generation missions, the technology acts as the mission's brain and central nervous system, controlling every function needed to gather scientific data from a Small Explorer-type mission. This includes everything from spacecraft command and data handling to attitude control, power, and propulsion, to name just a few tasks. The team also developed a variation of the system - iMUSTANG - for instrument electronics and, like its sibling, it allows users to choose different capabilities depending on instrument needs.

"Key to MUSTANG's success has been the integration of hardware and software design from day one," said Deputy Director of Goddard's Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate and former MMS Project Manager Craig Tooley, who spearheaded the effort. "It provides maximum processing performance and is highly flexible."

Two Versions Developed
Through their use of mix-and-match electronics cards, the two MUSTANG variations give NASA mission and instrument developers a smaller, highly modular, off-the-shelf avionics system that can be customized to meet virtually any smaller-mission requirement - and, better yet, at a reduced cost, Haghani added. While inappropriate for some large, flagship-style spacecraft, MUSTANG suits cost-constrained, yet high-performance missions, Haghani said.

"One of our goals was to create an avionics system that mission planners would not have to redesign for each mission," said Pete Spidaliere, a Goddard engineer who participated in MUSTANG's development. "We wanted to give the center a new way of doing things," Haghani added. "In the past, everyone wanted to start from scratch and develop their own avionics systems, which is expensive. By using MUSTANG and iMUSTANG, developers can focus their time and resources on their missions and instruments, not the electronics running them."

Already, the two MUSTANG variations have attracted users. NASA's Pre-Aerosols Clouds and Ocean Ecosystems mission, or PACE, and the Global Ecosystems Dynamics Investigation, or GEDI, have selected MUSTANG to run their operations and are funding the development of additional capabilities that could be used in other future NASA missions. Meanwhile, one of PACE's baselined instruments, the Ocean Color Instrument, or OCI, plans to employ iMUSTANG.

MMS Heritage
The effort to craft a modular avionics system began about two years ago just as Goddard engineers were putting the finishing touches on the four spacecraft that make up NASA's MMS mission.

It became obvious to Tooley, who formerly served as MMS project manager, that the center could reduce the cost of spacecraft electronics - traditionally an expensive, multi-million-dollar undertaking - and become more competitive by offering an off-the-shelf, ala-carte avionics system that users could customize to meet their own needs.

"The motivation is to keep board redesign costs to a minimum," Haghani said.

Smaller by Half
Taking MMS's avionics system, the MUSTANG team reduced by half the size of the housing box and began designing and testing a core set of cards controlling vital spacecraft functions. Since then, the group created 22 lightweight, highly capable cards, including one that controls higher-speed communications of up to 1.2 gigabits per second. MUSTANG was born.

"We took the MMS designs, shrunk them down, and added some powerful capabilities," Spidaliere said, adding that the team cut costs by a factor of three and crafted a system that is lighter and more robust than anything built before at Goddard.

"One of the great things about this effort and Noosha's team is that they did the impossible," Spidaliere added, alluding to the effort that resulted in a wholly new avionics system in less than two years. "It never dawned on them that this couldn't be done."

For more Goddard technology news, visit here

ESA's six-legged Suntracker flying on a Dragon
Paris (ESA) Feb 21, 2017
Tomorrow, a Space-X Dragon cargo ferry will be launched to the International Space Station packed with supplies, experiments, tools and food for the six astronauts living and working high above Earth. In the unpressurised cargo hold is a new NASA sensor that will monitor our atmosphere with a helping hand from ESA. The Space Station flies 400 km above our planet at 28 800 km/h, experiencin ... read more

Related Links
NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale mission,
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Russian cargo ship docks with space station

Russia to carry out tourist flights around Moon by 2022

NASA selects proposals for first-ever Space Technology Research Institutes

NASA saves energy and water with new modular supercomputing facility

Spacex To Send Privately Crewed Dragon Spacecraft Beyond The Moon Next Year

Sounding Rocket Flies in Alaska to Study Auroras

SpaceX cargo ship arrives at space station

SpaceX cargo ship aborts rendezvous with space station

NASA mulls putting astronauts on deep space test flight

Opportunity leaving crater rim for the Plains of Meridiani

Scientists say Mars valley was flooded with water not long ago

Researchers pinpoint watery past on Mars

China to launch first high-throughput communications satellite in April

Chinese cargo spacecraft set for liftoff in April

China looks to Mars, Jupiter exploration

China's first cargo spacecraft to leave factory

Kacific places order with Boeing for a high throughput satellite

ESA affirms Open Access policy for images, videos and data

Iridium Announces Target Date for Second Launch of Iridium NEXT

Italy, Russia working closely on Mars exploration, Earth monitoring satellites

Raytheon gets contract for Silent Knight radar systems

Kelvin Hughes to provide SharpEye radars for U.K. OPVs

Terma partner wins Indian radar contract

Two radar eyes are better than one

Does Pluto Have The Ingredients For Life?

Ancient microbes push limits of what life can survive on Earth, and off

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

From Rocks, Evidence of a 'Chaotic Solar System'

Juno to remain in current orbit at Jupiter

Europa Flyby Mission Moves into Design Phase

NASA receives science report on Europa lander concept

New Horizons Refines Course for Next Flyby

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement