Jointwave Enhances Spacecraft’s Video Capabilities

The video compression system can now multicast mission critical video to data storage recorders, live stream for crew displays or streaming downlink to mission control.
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Jointwave LLC, a supplier of the H.264 Internet protocol (IP) core for field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA) and application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), has enhanced a Lockheed Martin IP core’s MPEG-4 technology that is to be used on NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle thereby increasing that spacecraft’s video capabilities.

Jointwave customized Lockheed Martin’s—the prime contractor to NASA for the Orion Vehicle—H.264 encoder to enable the spacecraft's video compression system to multicast mission critical video to data storage recorders, live stream for crew displays or streaming downlink to mission control.

Jointwave’s H.264 encoder IP core supports full HD 1080p video, with broadcast level-video quality on a single low-cost FPGA device. It uses a very small amount of hardware resources, runs on a frequency as low as 100Mhz and consumes significantly less power than other IP cores on the market. Because of this, it is optimal for applications running on batteries in harsh environments, with strict limitations on power consumption heat dissipation.

“We are thrilled to announce that Jointwave's encoder IP core has passed the rigorous tests and theoretical verification required for the constraints of applications for human space flight missions,” said Paul Qiu, Jointwave’s CEO.

“Jointwave really stepped up to the challenge of pushing high definition video compression technology to meet our requirements for the Orion spacecraft,” said Preston Faiks, Lockheed Martin’s Orion senior electrical engineer. “They delivered very quickly and effectively as soon as we identified the customized requirements of the application.”

Faiks said the encoder will compress high-definition video from the spacecraft’s cameras that will be used to view mission critical launch events and provide situational awareness for rendezvous, proximity operations and docking.

The enhanced compression system is needed because of the differing data rates of the onboard systems. The data rate out of the cameras exceeds onegigabit, while the data rate for storage runs at 20Mbs and streaming to ground can be as low as 50 kilobits.

Due to its high-objective video quality, Jointwave’s codec works well with pattern recognition and video analytics technologies, and its highly efficient context-adaptive binary arithmetic coding (CABAC) and context-adaptive variable-length coding (CAVLC) entropy engines support throughput up to hundreds of megabits per second. This is particularly useful for applications that require visually lossless video.

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