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High speed data chain


Activities shall aim at providing advanced on-board data handling and transfer for Earth observation and Telecommunication systems, and its management and exploitation in mission ground segment. These activities shall address the future challenge of high data rates transmission and significant improvements in data throughput:

  • Re-configurable high data rate links including high frequency RF bands and optical communications: direct and interoperable links between LEO satellites and links to Earth and mobile or aerial platforms (including X band, Ka band and optical), or direct links between GEO satellites and Earth or mobile or aerial platforms, and inter-satellite links (beyond the specifications of the European Data Relay System – EDRS and its evolution in support to Copernicus).
  • On-board data processing, implementation of complex data algorithms (e.g. by means of programmable Digital Signal Processors – DSPs).
  • On-board data compression systems to improve on-board data storage (memory modules for new memory devices).
  • High data rate image (optical and/or radar) and video processing, such as lossless compression, image enhancement techniques or on-board SAR image generation.
  • Improved on-board data storage ensuring efficiency and reliability (management of memory modules for new memory devices).
  • Anticipate how the ground segment will cope with higher data rates to improve the overall data throughput. In particular to address the required evolution of technologies, architectures, products, end-user expectations, including the challenges associated with optical ground stations for data uplink and downlink.
  • Anticipate the need to link innovative ground segment architectures based on new ICT technologies, including cloud, in the “Big Data” domain and the rise in user demand for wide access to Near Real Time (NRT) and Quasi Real Time (QRT) data in social media and mobile applications.

A maximum of one proposal, exploiting NRT/QRT quality of data, with due regard to interoperability of interfaces to both innovative ICT dissemination architecture and applications, will be selected for funding.

In projects to be funded under this topic participation of industry, in particular SMEs, is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals addressing the full data chain (processing and compression, storage and transmission), or a coherent part of it, requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 5 to 7 million, and proposals addressing the rise in user demand of NRT/QRT data, requesting a contribution of between EUR 2 to 3 million would allow this specific topic to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Satellite missions with higher productivity add growing data requirements on missions. As a result high speed data handling, processing and transfer are required. These growing requirements are shared among a variety of applications, with a main focus on Earth observation and Telecommunication systems, and with applications also in Science and Exploration. Data challenges have to be addressed within the data chain on-board the satellites (e.g. processing, storage, compression, optimisation), between the satellite and other terminals that can be located on ground or air-borne platforms, on-board other satellites, and mission ground segment. In particular, next generation Earth observation sensors pose the most challenging requirements for data links (in the Gbps range), including links from orbit to ground and inter-satellite communications between different orbits and constellations, and including technology transfer related to very small LEO satellites (nano and cubesats), as well as direct ground link to very small LEO satellites (nanosat and below, including cubesats) considering optical technologies.

Faster processing, larger storage, and high bandwidth transmissions to users will be needed. Moreover, smart on-board data compression and optimisation will become a growing necessity. All these improvements will be required to efficiently support the next generation of data intensive missions. To support this future scenario, innovations must be brought to the payload data management system (including data optimisation processes), to inter-satellite links, to satellite-ground communication, and to the ground segment data handling system.

Moreover, within the context of preparatory work for the next generation of the Copernicus space component, mission concepts will be developed by European industry based on mature Earth observation technologies and solutions.

  • To provide elements for the high speed data chain management (including processing and compression, storage and transmission) and to support technologies for data intensive next generation of Telecommunications and Earth observation systems.
  • Greater industrial relevance of research actions and output as demonstrated by deeper involvement of industry, including SMEs, and stronger take-up of research results including support to standardisation (CCSDS[[Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems.]]).
  • Fostering links between academia and industry, accelerating and broadening technology transfer.