Modern scientific instruments are complex, and computers are needed to control and monitor them. This function is performed by the EGSE. Often special-purpose electrical interfaces are used on a spacecraft, so the EGSE will typically have a rack of equipment which emulates this special hardware, together with power supplies.
The Electronics Group has developed software which can adapt to many of the standard requirements for an EGSE. Typically simple text-based databases are used, often generated using Excel, which contain the data format definitions for each project. This means that a system for a new project can be up and running in a few weeks. Our Electronics Group designs the EGSE and its software, running applications such as:
- Data logging and display
- Automatic data checking
- Instrument control
- Sequencing of test operations
- Analysis of scientific data
The Electronics Group have experienced software developers who can choose the appropriate software languages and systems to meet special requirements, and overcome problems with scientific data handling. Typically, low level code is developed in C or C++, and Integrated Data Language (IDL) is used when EGSE requires a Graphical User Interface (GUI).
RAL Space develops EGSE for many external agencies such as NASA, ESA, Eumetsat, TAS, and JAXA. Once complete, the EGSE is transported to the customer where it becomes part of a combined spacecraft test system. For example, four GERB (Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget) instruments have been built at RAL, taken to TAS in Cannes for connection to the Metoesat spacecraft and the EGSE is now at the spacecraft operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany. Pictures from the spacecraft are used for the TV weather forecast.
For more information, please contact:
Chris Howe – Software and Production group leader
For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries