The European Space Agency originally developed SpaceWire – a standard for high-speed communication links between satellite components – to help telescopes work more reliably with each other.
At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) and Command and Data Handling (ICDH) engineering team designed a network interface that increases SpaceWire’s bandwidth. A small, low power microchip sends and receives SpaceWire signals at speeds over 200 Mbit/s.
This is the JWST SpaceWire Protocol and Physical Layer Chips on the Multi-SpaceWire Concentrator Card. Photo courtesy of NASA.
With the higher bandwidth, the JWST ISIM can support the mission’s scientific instruments, which use 66 million detector pixels – the largest number of pixels ever used on a space telescope. JWST can now study more of the universe.
A full-scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope appeared outside at the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Seattle, January 2007. Photo courtesy ofNASA/Rob Gutro.
SpaceWire is a standard for high-speed links and networks for use onboard a spacecraft, making it easier to connect sensors, mass-memories, and processing units. The standard simplifies the construction of onboard data handling systems, reduces system integration costs, increases compatibility between data handling equipment and subsystems, and encourages the re-use of data handling equipment across several different missions.
The James Webb Space Telescope is a 21st century space observatory that will look back over 13 billion years in time to gather information about the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets; and the evolution of our solar system. It will launch in 2013.
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