Session

Technical Session XII: Communications

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

In any satellite, internal bus and payload systems must exchange a variety of command, control, telemetry, and mission-data. In too many cases, the resulting network is an ad-hoc proliferation of complex, dissimilar protocols with incomplete system-to-system connectivity. While standards like CAN, MIL-STD-1553, and SpaceWire mitigate this problem, none can simultaneously solve the need for high throughput and low power consumption.

We present a new solution that uses Ethernet framing and addressing to unify a mixed-media network. Low-speed nodes (0.1-10 Mbps) use simple interfaces such as SPI and UART to communicate with extremely low power and minimal complexity. High-speed nodes use so-called “media-independent” interfaces such as RMII, RGMII, and SGMII to communicate at rates up to 1000 Mbps and enable connection to traditional COTS network equipment. All are interconnected into a single smallsat-area-network using a Layer-2 network switch, with mixed-media support for all these interfaces on a single network. The result is fast, easy, and flexible communication between any two subsystems.

SatCat5 is presented as a free and open-source reference implementation of this mixed-media network switch, with power consumption of 0.2-0.7W depending on network activity. Further discussion includes example protocols that can be used on such networks, leveraging IPv4 when suitable but also enabling full-featured communication without the need for a complex protocol stack.

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Aug 1st, 12:00 AM

SatCat5: A Low-Power, Mixed-Media Ethernet Network for Smallsats

Utah State University, Logan, UT

In any satellite, internal bus and payload systems must exchange a variety of command, control, telemetry, and mission-data. In too many cases, the resulting network is an ad-hoc proliferation of complex, dissimilar protocols with incomplete system-to-system connectivity. While standards like CAN, MIL-STD-1553, and SpaceWire mitigate this problem, none can simultaneously solve the need for high throughput and low power consumption.

We present a new solution that uses Ethernet framing and addressing to unify a mixed-media network. Low-speed nodes (0.1-10 Mbps) use simple interfaces such as SPI and UART to communicate with extremely low power and minimal complexity. High-speed nodes use so-called “media-independent” interfaces such as RMII, RGMII, and SGMII to communicate at rates up to 1000 Mbps and enable connection to traditional COTS network equipment. All are interconnected into a single smallsat-area-network using a Layer-2 network switch, with mixed-media support for all these interfaces on a single network. The result is fast, easy, and flexible communication between any two subsystems.

SatCat5 is presented as a free and open-source reference implementation of this mixed-media network switch, with power consumption of 0.2-0.7W depending on network activity. Further discussion includes example protocols that can be used on such networks, leveraging IPv4 when suitable but also enabling full-featured communication without the need for a complex protocol stack.