How Space-Grade Digital Isolation Meets the High Radiation and Interference Requirements of LEO Satellites

How Space-Grade Digital Isolation Meets the High Radiation and Interference Requirements of LEO Satellites

Today’s space race isn’t just about landing on new planets, it’s about better communicating with Earth through global broadband connections powered by superconstellations, also known as low-Earth-orbiting (LEO) satellites. Like terrestrial applications, LEO satellites require signal and power isolation to prevent ground potential differences while improving noise immunity, thereby enhancing system integrity and performance.

Today’s space race isn’t just about landing on new planets, it’s about better communicating with Earth through global broadband connections powered by superconstellations, also known as low-Earth-orbiting (LEO) satellites. Like terrestrial applications, LEO satellites require signal and power isolation to prevent ground potential differences while improving noise immunity, thereby enhancing system integrity and performance.

Designers have previously used isolation techniques such as optocouplers and pulse transformers to isolate signals and power supplies in spacecraft applications, but the limitations of these techniques can create challenges for isolated subsystems. For optocouplers, these limitations include poor radiation resistance, limited electrical performance and limited number of channels per package, while the large size of the pulse transformer can be difficult to design for.

As an alternative, radiation-tolerant SiO in plastic encapsulation2Digital isolators, such as the ISOS141-SEP quad-channel digital isolator, meet the radiation-hardening performance and immunity of LEO application subsystems with single-event locking (SEL) and single-event dielectric breakdown (SEDR) immunity Interference requirements: LET=43MeV⋅cm^2/mg, total ionizing radiation dose (TID) specification and RLAT up to 30krad(Si), displacement damage (NDD) specification up to 1×10^12n/cm^2 (equivalent to 1MeV ).

Solving Isolation Design Challenges for LEO Satellites

Learn how to use digital isolators to isolate signals in LEO satellite applications with the application note “How to Use Digital Isolators to Isolate Signals in Emerging LEO Satellite Applications.”

From a signal isolation standpoint, the ISOS141-SEP offers a higher continuous operating Voltage of 600V, faster data rates of 100Mbps, low propagation delay, and channel-to-channel delays of 10.7ns and 4ns (max), and provides 100kV/μs CMTI. This isolation performance can improve signal isolation in a variety of spacecraft applications, including power systems, battery management systems (BMS) (shown in Figure 1), and communications payloads. In addition, the small size of the device (for example, the ISOS141-SEP is 4.90mmx3.90mm) also helps simplify system design while reducing weight.

How Space-Grade Digital Isolation Meets the High Radiation and Interference Requirements of LEO Satellites
Figure 1: ISOS141-SEP digital isolator used in spacecraft BMS to isolate UART and GPIO signals.

Digital isolators in plastic packages can isolate signals in multiple aerospace applications, from power systems to communication payloads. These isolators help simplify designs, provide radiation hardening and provide multi-channel solutions in a single package, while maintaining high isolation integrity compared to existing solutions. These advanced features will play an important role in the development of LEO satellites that communicate with Earth.

About Texas Instruments (TI)

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