On-board payload data processing encompasses the data acquisition, transfer, storage, data compression or reduction and transmission to ground of instrument and sensor data. Quite often the amount of raw data generated by modern instruments is in excess of what can be transmitted to ground. This makes it is necessary to use various signal processing and compression techniques to reduce the amount of data. It is equally important to have high speed data links, large on-board storage capabilities and digital signal processors available that are fast enough handle data in the range of gigabytes per second.
As traditional digital signal processors (DSPs) for space are becoming obsolete in terms of performance and technology, the next generation DSP is under evaluation and development with ESA support. Furthermore, other means for increasing digital signal processing performance are being investigated through ESA's Basic Technology Research Programme (TRP). One example is to exploit the inherent parallelism of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). You can read more about these topics on the on-board data processing website.