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Time and Space partitioning for the next embedded Linux distribution for the space domain

Time and Space partitioning for the next embedded Linux distribution for the space domain

Have you ever wondered about the complexity of the software being used on-board satellites? Which operating systems the on-board computers use? How does the New Space approach change the scenario?

Nowadays, Linux is starting to get used in space applications and the availability of this operating system in satellites is becoming a reality. The open-source operating system offers many features that are highly attractive for developers, guaranteeing a very stable and proven development system which results convenient for the space market.

In the context of «New Space», the use of Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components allows more computing power available. Thus, heavier processing can be considered, enabling to embed more and more complex applications. Considering new processing methods becomes a need.

Linux provides a good solution for developers in this scenario, as it offers a huge amount of high-quality open-source software for high performance computing processors. Additionally, the use of this operating system enables artificial intelligence and image analysis applications which are usually based on frameworks and libraries supported by Linux.

The need to find an open embedded Linux distribution meeting current on-board processing demands represents an important challenge for software developers and this is how the Yocto Linux Project for Space Project emerges. The purpose of this promising joint activity is to resume previous results about a Linux distribution for space applications to ensure non-interference with other potentially critical applications running on the same on-board computer, a Linux-based system must be temporally and spatially isolated from other systems and here is where the XtratuM Hypervisor comes into play.

XtratuM Next Generation (XNG) implements time and space partitioning and it is currently running in a popular processor used in embedded systems as is the ARM Cortex A9. In this project, a Linux distribution package for space applications will be developed for the Zynq7000 MPSoC which is based on this ARM Cortex A9, and others popular space architectures could be envisaged in a near future.

fentISS work in this project is mainly focused on the definition of the layers required to integrate the Linux kernel of the distribution in an XNG partition allowing the virtualization of this open embedded Linux distribution for space.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning that to ensure alignment of this Yocto Linux for Space distro with the needs of on-board applications, partners are capturing requirements through the contact with the industry.

This project represents a promising opportunity to get Linux, one of the main operating systems in the world, more widely used in the space domain. The New Space market will benefit from this approach which will enable more sophisticated on-board applications that satellite constellations are demandi


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