Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) engineers have patented a high-speed, flash memory storage system. Satellites will use this technology to gather and store large quantities of data, and later transmit the information to ground stations.
“Our use of the patented technology revolves around high-speed, high-capacity storage of data on satellites,” says Michael A. Koets, staff engineer in SwRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division. SwRI inventors Larry T. McDaniel III and Miles R. Darnell joined Koets on the patent titled, “Systems and Methods for Improved Access to Flash Memory Devices.”
“A representative application is the storage of images collected by satellites for weather monitoring and prediction,” Koets adds.
Weather satellites accumulate numerous high-resolution photos, which, in turn, produce a hefty amount of data. However, the satellites cannot send this information at will. They transmit the data to ground receivers at specific locations.
“All of that data needs to be stored to memory on the satellite as it is collected. Our high-speed, high-capacity flash storage system provides a means to do that,” says Koets. “It can record data to flash memory up to 100 times faster than previous approaches.”
The patent moves beyond weather satellite applications. Earth-monitoring satellites can store radar data. The storage system can also hold scientific data from deep space missions.
Flash memory has found its way into a variety of consumer electronics, but the harsh conditions of space have slowed its adoption beyond Earth. According to SwRI, the patented system enables slower, but more robust, flash memory storage that can function within a space-based environment.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense