UTFacultiesEEMCSNewsFormalising Collaboration with the European Space Agency

Formalising Collaboration with the European Space Agency Signing the Memorandum of Understanding

The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Twente is pleased to announce the formalisation of its long-standing collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) through a Memorandum of Understanding. This agreement marks a significant milestone in our extensive partnership.

Exploring the Cosmos with Dependable Computing

This collaboration focuses on designing and characterizing dependable computing devices specifically tailored for space applications, with an emphasis on reliability and security. Professor Marco Ottavi leads the research group "Dependable Computing Systems" within the Computer Architecture for Embedded Systems (CAES) group.

One notable outcome of this collaboration is the co-sponsored PhD project "Probabilistic Data Structures for Secure and Reliable RISC-V Processors," funded by ESA. Professor Ottavi further highlights the success of the partnership: "Our joint efforts have also included organizing multiple editions of the prestigious IEEE International Symposium on Defect and Fault Tolerance conference."

The partnership has also facilitated experiments on radiation characterization, providing crucial insights for enhancing the reliability of space-based computing systems. Additionally, several co-authored scientific publications with ESA demonstrate our commitment to advancing dependable computing.

Focus of the cooperation

The cooperation will primarily focus on research areas within space technology and engineering. Both parties have already identified specific research themes and associated facilities to be explored, including:

  • On-board computers and Data Handling
  • Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) Components/Equipment
  • Development of RISC-V-based architectures for secure applications
  • Artificial intelligence-related microelectronics
  • EEE components
  • New methodologies for COTS component characterisation

This collaboration follows a programmatic approach, aiming to integrate space and non-space expertise to potentially create a European competence network in this field. Potential outcomes include technical notes, research publications, and even breadboards.
The plan of activities itself can encompass various individual activities, such as:

  • R&D activities
  • Master or PhD theses
  • Postdoctoral work
  • Collaboration between research groups and industry

These activities should be funded through diverse funding sources, not solely relying on ESA. A Joint Working Group will be responsible for recommending focal points for managing and consolidating the results, ensuring they contribute to achieving the envisaged goals.

Navigating Challenges in Space Exploration

Dependable computing is crucial for space applications, as it addresses challenges like the absence of repair options and the harsh space environment with ionising radiation and potential cybersecurity threats. Our collaboration with ESA positions us at the forefront of tackling these critical issues, showcasing our commitment to pushing the boundaries of scientific exploration.