Monthly Archives: January 2016

January 26, 2016

Mars Opportunity Rover, Expected to Last Only 90 Days, Celebrates 12 Years – Powered by CompactPCI


This week, the Mars rover Opportunity celebrated its 12th anniversary on the red planet, having  landed there on Jan. 24, 2004. The rover is still functioning, and has an exploratory mission over the winter in “Marathon Valley” in the Endeavour crater.

Opportunity is controlled by two CompactPCI computers, designed and built by BAE Systems.

When Opportunity first landed, the NASA team thought the harsh Martian environment would render it useless in a matter of months. But the golf cart-sized rover, powered by solar energy, is still collecting data today.

CompactPCI remains a vital and important technology for a wide range of applications, and is widely used in satellites and other space applications. It’s rugged and it works.

Congratulations to the NASA engineers and support teams, and BAE.


Joe Pavlat


January 12, 2016

New PICMG Sub-committee to Propel CompactPCI Serial into Space Applications

Industry NewsNews

Members sought to help define requirements and expand technology platform

Wakefield, MA,– PICMG, a leading standards organization for embedded computing applications, is forming a new working group to extend CompactPCI Serial technology to space applications. CompactPCI Serial is a fairly new platform that adds fast serial interfaces and integral networking to CompactPCI, dramatically increasingly its performance and speed.

The sub-committee is currently seeking additional companies to help plan and develop the new Space CompactPCI Serial standard.  Interested parties are invited to contact PICMG ([email protected]).

Manfred Schmitz, CEO of MEN Mikro Elektronik GmbH, who is organizing the subcommittee, noted, “CompactPCI itself has been a trusted platform in space for several decades.  This new sub-committee will identify the specific factors needed to ensure the simple and successful use of CompactPCI Serial in space applications today and into tomorrow.” MEN Mikro Elektronik GmbH is the parent company of MEN Micro Inc., the North American subsidiary.

The new working group, Space CompactPCI Serial will also include PICMG member companies and well-known industry leaders, such as Airbus Defense & Space, Thales Alenia Space, and STI Spacetech.

Specific application needs within the space environment will be the focus of the new group. Topics currently identified include environmental factors, fault detection and provisions for high availability as well as the need for serial interfaces such as SpaceWire and Rapid I/O for board-to-board communication.

Joe Pavlat, president of PICMG, notes, “Extending CompactPCI Serial into space applications is the next step in the development of this time-proven family of standards. The CompactPCI Serial base specification has the mechanical and conduction cooling technologies needed for space already defined and in place. Both 3U and 6U Eurocard formats are supported.”

As with the initial development of the CompactPCI Serial standard, one of the major goals is to keep the technology straightforward, understandable, and to guarantee maximum interoperability between bus slots and boards.

With Space CompactPCI Serial, designers can implement leading edge technical solutions for this highly specialized market while reusing and evolving proven technology. This will provide increased flexibility and significant cost reductions when compared to custom, single vendor solutions for space.

CompactPCI technology has a long standing history in space applications, from the famous “Curiosity” Mars Rover and satellite control to performing scientific tasks on the International Space Station.   A typical application envisioned for Space CompactPCI Serial is the implementation of the platform and the payload controller onboard satellites.

  • Space CompactPCI Serial Working Group
  • Committee members sought for insights, contributions and developments
  • Charter for the working group includes the addition of space-related serial interconnects as well as the inclusion of high availability, fault detection, and environmental requirements unique to applications in outer space
  • Latest extension of PICMG’s CompactPCI family of standards
  • Will build on CompactPCI’s long standing history in space applications

For additional information on CompactPCI Serial visit CompactPCI Serial