Exploration flight projects, robotic precursors, and technology demonstrators that are designed to operate beyond low-earth orbit require avionic systems, components, and controllers that are capable of enduring the extreme temperature and radiation environments of deep space, the lunar surface, and eventually the Martian surface.
Spacecraft vehicle electronics will be required to operate across a wide temperature range and must be capable of enduring frequent (and often rapid) thermal-cycling. Packaging for these electronics must be able to accommodate the mechanical stress and fatigue associated with the thermal cycling. Spacecraft vehicle electronics must be radiation hardened for the target environment. They must be capable of operating through a minimum total ionizing dose (TID) of 300 krads (Si), provide fewer Single Event Upsets (SEUs) than 10-10 to 10-11errors/bit-day, and provide single event latchup (SEL) immunity at linear energy transfer (LET) levels of 100 MeV cm2/mg (Si) or more. All three characteristics for radiation hardened electronics of TID, SEU and SEL are needed. Electronics hardened for thermal cycling and extreme temperature ranges should perform beyond the standard military specification range of -55°C to 125°C, running as low as -230°C or as high as 350°C.
Considering these target environment performance parameters for thermal and radiation extremes, proposals are sought in the following specific areas:
- Low power, high efficiency, radiation-hardened processor technologies.
- Technologies and techniques for environmentally hardened Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA).
- Innovative radiation hardened volatile and nonvolatile memory technologies.
- Tightly-integrated electronic sensor and actuator modules that include power, command and control, and processing.
- Radiation hardened analog application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for spacecraft power management and other applications.
- Radiation hardened DC-to-DC converters and point-of-load power distribution circuits.
- Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools for predicting the electrical performance, reliability, and life cycle for low-temperature and wide-temperature electronic systems and components.
- Physics-based device models valid at temperature ranging from -230°C to +130°C to enable design, verification and fabrication of custom mixed-signal and analog circuits.
- Circuit design and layout methodologies/techniques that facilitate improved radiation hardness and low-temperature (-230°C) analog and mixed-signal circuit performance.
- Packaging capable of surviving numerous thermal cycles and tolerant of the extreme temperatures on the Moon and Mars. This includes the use of appropriate materials including substrates, die-attach, encapsulants, thermal compounds, etc.