The goal in FORROST (Forschungsverbund Robotische On-Orbit Servicing Technologien) is the development of novel, easy to handle, remote controlled robotic systems for space application.
In a long term robotic systems shall be developed to repair or maintain space systems autonomic and support astronauts during their extravehicular activities. Furthermore the disposal of old satellites shall be enabled to reduce the amount of dangerous space debris. These project goals are important elements of the space strategy of the German government (Nov. 2010).
The goal of FORROST is to push the development of these technologies as well as to bring together the compentence in the field of On-orbit servicing in Bavaria.
The Institute of Astronautics at the TU München works together with the Hochschule Hof and the Universität Erlangen on "Ka-Band communication and Stereo-Videosystems". This work can be devided as follows:
1) Realtime Computer System ERViS
ERViS is a newly developed camera-computer system that is optimized for real-time processing of high-data volumes. In its primary application the computer is used for the real-time compression of video data that is presented to a ground-based human operator who needs video feedback for an enhanced situational awareness. The long-term goal of this development is a flight computer for new spacecraft that can use this high-performance data processing (e.g. for hyper-spectral payloads). The University of Erlangen will enhance the computer hardware architecture with respect to reliability. The Hochschule Hof is optimizing the software algorithms that processes the video data to enhance the compression efficiency and speed.
2) Critical Component Identification:
As the long-term goal of the computer development is a use in an orbital mission the computer will be exposed to radiation during the operation. As shielding is only of limited use in the harsh space environment the selection of so called radiation-hard elements is a critical step in the development process. During the project the Universität Erlangen and the TU München will identify the components most critical to radiation.
3) Demonstration and Evaluation of Communication-Path
In this part of the project a complete end-to-end communication path for real-time applications will be implemented. The measurements characterizing this communication path will use an hardware in the loop simulator generating realistic sensor data and allowing realistic tele-command input to control an simulated spacecraft (e.g. servicer spacecraft for on-orbit servicing). The communication path will be characterized by measuring the latency, jitter, bit-error-rate and bandwidth.