XCAM Deliver Experiment Controller for CASPA Cold Atom CubeSat Payload Project
The experiment controller board developed by XCAM for the CAPSA cold atoms cubesat payload project was successfully delivered to the QT Hub for Sensors team at the University of Birmingham by XCAM engineers Friday. The experiment controller was fully functional upon its first iteration with all control modules and current sources operating as intended.
This signifies another key milestone achieved by XCAM in relation to the Teledyne e2v led, Innovate UK-funded project. Other key subsystems which will eventually make up the cold atom payload are under development, to be integrated with the XCAM controller soon. Therefore a series of operational tasks were performed in order to simulate the signals from the other subsytems and test the experiment controllers ability to read back the measurments and acquire images via XCAM’s existing TRL9 C3D imager (successfully delivered previously in the project), as if the cold atom experiment were fully operational. Teledyne e2v engineers were present to witness the testing and brought an ion pump controller along which the experiment controller was successfully able to operate and return a pressure value for.
This represents a significant achievement for the XCAM team having successfully delivered a complete working system in just six months since the specification for the CASPA payload was finalised. The work XCAM engineers undertook included drawing up a circuit schematic, getting the PCB circuit board designed and manufactured, testing, and integration with the existing C3D imager controller. The C3D imager controller will also undergo further development to a new version based on the previous system flown on the AlSat Nano CubeSat mission, and will be deliverd in 6 months time with the final system delivery. These developments include updated components, increased on-board memory, a USB 2.0 interface for fast and easy lab testing, and a faster SPI over LVDS interface which will allow C3D to capture and transfer images in video mode.
The CASPA project aims to develop a 6U cubesat payload capable of producing and maintaining a cold atom experiment in space with the potential to measure tiny changes in Earth’s gravitional field. Read more about the CASPA project in our previous article here.