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Goddard Space Flight Center

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Instrument Electronics Development Branch (Code 564)


The Instrument Electronics Development Branch provides leadership and expertise to design, develop, test, and deliver electronics systems for space flight science instruments including: front-end electronics, analog signal filtering and conditioning, temperature control electronics, analog-to-digital conversion, digital signal processing, and science data processing. In addition, the Branch develops analog and digital electronics to control various instrument sensors and actuators.

The Branch provides expert personnel, utilizing specialized tools and laboratories, for the design, analysis, and test of advanced microelectronics devices such as mixed-signal application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) as well as algorithms and code for digital signal processing applications.

The Branch collaborates with science instrument principal investigators to formulate instrument electronics systems architectures for conceptual studies and proposals for new and future instruments.   The Branch furthers these concepts to design and build prototype and development hardware for laboratory demonstration. For flight instrument projects, the Branch designs and develops engineering and flight units, performs verification testing, and delivers these electronics systems for integration to the flight instrument.

Code 564 and some of our deliverables.  (Top) Code 564 Personnel; (1) CubeSat Processing Module  (2) CubeSat Ion-Neutron Mass Spectrometer (3) High-Speed Digitizer Card Assembly  (4) 12-Bit A-D Converter ASIC  (5) MAVEN Magnetometer flight assemblies (flux gate coils (2) and control electonrics (6) ICESAT2 ATLAS Instrument Main Electronics Box  (7)  ASTRO-H Adiabatic Demagnetization Refrigeration Controller
Figure 1: Code 564 and some of our deliverables.  (Top) Code 564 Personnel; (1) CubeSat Processing Module (2) CubeSat Ion-Neutron Mass Spectrometer (3) High-Speed Digitizer Card Assembly  (4) 12-Bit A-D Converter ASIC  (5) MAVEN Magnetometer flight assemblies (flux gate coils (2) and control electonics (6) ICESAT2 ATLAS Instrument Main Electronics Box  (7)  ASTRO-H Adiabatic Demagnetization Refrigeration Controller


Additional details on our discipline expertise is as follows:

Our Analog and Digital Electronics Group provides technical leadership in the areas of complex instrument front end detector readout design and development, for instrument electronics architectures, and for flight applications and technology efforts. Our knowledgeable workforce provides expertise in disciplines including but not limited to: low-noise amplifiers; passive and active filters; ADC and DAC topologies; phase-locked loops; Ultra stable oscillators; Electromagnetics, power filtering, EMI/EMC testing, and grounding; Analog multiplexers, temperature monitors, analog housekeeping circuitry; Optically-coupled circuits; Cryo-cooler electronics and EMI issues, and cryogenic temperature sensor readout; Switch-mode and linear regulator based power supply design; PWM circuits and servo-control loops;  Magnetics design; and voltage bias, regulators and references.

Our Magnetometry engineers and technicians are co-located with scientists in the Planetary Magnetospheres Laboratory.  They are tasked with the design, build, calibration, integration, and test of GSFC’s fluxgate magnetometers.  Code 690 personnel also operate and maintain the Area 300 calibration facility used for the magnetometers.  Since 1966, Goddard remains a world leader in spaceflight magnetometry with over 75 satellite instruments launched in the past 50 years.  Recently flown missions include Juno, Van Allen Probes, MAVEN, and DSCOVR.  Solar Probe Plus and GOES are currently in development.

The DSP Technology Group was conceived to address tradeoffs between increasing data resolution at the sensor vs. constrained data storage and downlink data rates.  DSP meets this through signal processing that extracts key science data products from noise and by reducing the need to store and transmit raw data. Onboard DSP was a major factor that contributed to the success of the SMAP Radiometer’s ability to mitigate radio frequency interference on collected moisture samples.

The Mixed-Signal ASIC Group (MSAG) provides end-to-end design services for analog, digital, and mixed-signal radiation-hardened ASICs in support of NASA GSFC technologies and instruments.  Our main focus is the integration of analog/digital radiation-hardened circuits onto silicon chips with an emphasis on multi-channel implementations to reduce mass, power and area of instrument electronics.  MSAG has designed and produced ASICs in 0.5µm, 0.35µm, 0.25µm and 0.18µm CMOS processes including functions such as Time-of-flight, Analog-to-digital/Digital-to-analog converters and Analog front-end/Readouts for space instruments. MSAG has produced patents and articles related to integrated circuit design and actively collaborates with industry and other government agencies to develop the next generation of radiation hardened mixed-signal ASICs and structured-ASICs in support of instrument miniaturization.

Our Systems Implementation Group provides technical leadership in the areas of instrument electrical systems, instrument electronics subsystems, and instrument-related electrical ground support equipment (EGSE).  Electrical systems supports the instrument systems team with expertise in areas comprising instrument level command and data handling (a.k.a. main electronics boxes), data buses, digitizer electronics, electrical control of instrument  mechanisms, detector/sensor modules, lasers, guidance and navigation, power distribution and control, harnessing, and EGSE. 


Branch Management Team

Phyllis Hestnes Max Pinchinat Vacant Vacant

Phyllis Hestness

Max Pinchinat
Associate Head

Associate Head

Associate Head


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Main Office: 301-286-8043
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