Flight Electronics

The electronics group provides electrical engineering support to flight and lab experiments. This includes determining system requirements, specifying system architectures, designing of custom electronics as necessary, building and testing complete systems and supporting operations in the field.

When considering how to implement data acquisition and control for flight instruments, several general criteria need to be taken into account. First of course are the scientific requirements: What data is required? At what rate? What are the noise tolerances? Then there are engineering requirements: How will the components integrate into the instrument architecture? What hardware, electrical and software accommodations need to be made? How will we service the components in the event of failure one, five or ten years down the road? When possible, we will take advantage of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components. COTS components are usually much less expensive than in-house designs, but they may fail to meet critical design requirements.

Designing custom electronics to meet the scientific objectives has always been a core strength of the Anderson Group. While custom designs require significant investment of time and money, they allow us to tailor the design to our specific needs and plan for long-term support. Some major components we have developed in recent years include:

  • Data Acquisition and Control System (DACS)
  • Scalable Signal Processor (SSP)
  • Quantum Cascade Laser Current Driver (QCLI)