Thesis Opportunity: On-Board Software For Autonomous Operation Of The Propulsion System On The MIST Satellite

Subject matter of the thesis

The NanoProp propulsion system to be flown on the MIST satellite is a cold-gas propulsion system developed by GomSpace AB in Uppsala, Sweden. The purpose of flying it on the MIST student satellite is to develop methods to evaluate the performance of the system – and to provide learning experience for the students involved in the project.

To operate the NanoProp system in orbit there needs to be functionality in both the on-board software of MIST (running on the satellite’s computer) and in the ground station. The On-board software needs to implement all the step-by-step operations of automatically running the system because the satellite is rather seldom over the ground station and subject to real-time control. The on-board software needs to implement Fault Detection Isolation and Recovery (FDIR) functionality and to be able to closely interact with subsystems in the satellite, including a rate gyro system (installed in a sub-system called “the NanoProp Helper Board”) for detecting excessive angular rates of motion of the satellite. So, there is a need for considerable on-board autonomy in the operation of NanoProp.

Thus, the subject of thesis is to:

  • Define a suitable structure for the autonomous on-board software functions to support NanoProp operations in orbit.
  • To develop an accompanying strategy and tools for verifying the desired functionality and in particular the ability of the system to be autonomous.

The functional requirements for this have been developed by a previous master’s  thesis: MIST_M174_012_version_1_20201012_Nanoprop_Operations.pdf

The user manual for NanoProp is available here: NanoProp User’s Manual

Onboard software in MIST is written in C and the operating system is FreeRTOS.

Teaching assistance for this thesis will be provided by:

  • Teaching assistants in the on-board software team
  • The author of the M174_012 thesis on NanoProp operations.

Supervisor: PhD student Andrii Berezovskyi (Mechatronics & Embedded Cntrl Systems)

Examiner: Professor Martin Törngren (Mechatronics & Embedded Control Systems

Contact the MIST project manager Sven Grahn, for more information

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