Enabling & Support

Onboard Storage

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ESA / Enabling & Support / Space Engineering & Technology / Onboard Computer and Data Handling

Mass memories in space systems

Mass memories in space systems are evolving from simple stream tape-like recorders to complex intelligent (sub)systems capable of autonomous operations. This evolution is both driven by requests coming from complex multi-payload missions and from the availability of very high density memory components.

NAND flash memories are gaining acceptance as data storage in consumer electronics (e.g., USB flash drives) because of their compactness, low power, low cost and high data throughput. However, hi-rel electronics is struggling in keeping the pace with the aggressive scaling down of NAND flash technology. As a consequence, the use of NAND flash in space applications is not as established as in the consumer market and is still under research.

Furthermore, the availability of fully qualified space memories is not an option for cost, availability, long lead or performance reasons. Commercial Off The Shelves (COTS) NAND flashes need to be adopted. Since most of them are not able to successfully operate and survive in the space environment, they request additional tests and design methods (e.g., upscreening, redundancy).

One of the section's main R&D activity area is targeted towards providing practical valuable design guidelines, comparisons and tradeoffs among the huge number of dimensions of fault tolerant design methodologies applied to the critical space environment.

Solid State Mass Memory Concept
Solid State Mass Memory Concept