ICE Cubes flight segment overview
The main characteristics in terms of physical conceptual configuration are briefly highlighted in the following.
The ICE Cubes Facility (ICF) is composed of:
- the Framework, accommodating up to 20 Experiment Cubes, and providing power and data/commands connectivity;
- the structural Container, to be installed and mechanically fastened inside the hosting rack onboard Columbus;
- removable mass memory storage devices, namely the Solid State Drives (SSDs) and USB flash drives necessary to host the operational software and to physically download the scientific data.
The Experiment Cubes are standardized plug-and-play research modules (1U = 10cmx10cmx10cm) or modular combinations of that basic size.
Views of the ICF with the Framework and the Experiment Cubes are shown in the figure below.
The Framework is the central unit that accommodates each Experiment Cube and offers services such as power, connectivity and data storage.
- up to 20 active locations (power + gigabit Ethernet) for the accommodation and management of “internal” Experiment Cubes, each location is equipped with one DB13W3S female receptacle;
- 1 active location (in the front) for the accommodation/interfacing of an Experiment Cube located externally to the ICF and connected via a cable;
- 1 Wireless Access Point (WAP) for the management of Experiment Cubes hosted in Columbus and connected via a private Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) generated by the ICF;
- 2 USB 3.0 ports (in the front) used, e.g. for connecting USB flash drives;
- 1 auxiliary LAN connector (RJ45 port).
The system, including the Experiment Cubes, is monitored and operated from ground.
Nominal interventions of the astronauts are limited to activation of power switch, exchange of Experiment Cubes and, if requested, installing/removing the SSD and USB flash drives used for collection of large amounts of scientific data to be physically downloaded to ground.
“Internal” Experiment Cubes
The “internal” Experiment Cubes (hereafter referred to as “Experiment Cubes” or “Cubes”) can vary per experiment but will all have to meet basic interface requirements with the Framework such as modular size, weight, interface, maximum allowable power, etc.
The size of the Experiment Cubes is set to mimic the CubeSat standard, i.e. 10x10x10cm (1 litre) for a 1U Experiment Cube.
The Experiment Cubes can be functionally interconnected via the network offered by the Framework. The data generated by the experiment cube can be temporarily stored internally in the cube itself or in the SSD (500GB) made available by the ICE Cubes facility, before being transmitted to ground.
Real time video downlink is possible.
Data will be downlinked to ground according to the capabilities offered by the ISS infrastructure.
Two power lines with voltages 5V @1 Amp max and 12V@ 3Amp max are available for the cube. Power delivered to the Experiment Cube is limited to 10 W per litre of volume, as preliminary value. Deviations can be accepted based on specific thermal analysis.
Data interface is based on Gigabit Ethernet.
Last update: 11 July 2018