Alpha Data FPGA products used in flight trials for JPL

10, August 2015: Edinburgh, UK


Alpha Data Parallel Systems Ltd., a leading provider of embedded FPGA platforms and systems announces that the ADPE-XRC-6T board and its IPs are performing well on NASA’s ER-2 Airborne Laboratory flying at over 20,000 meters (altitude) during flight trials for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Alpha Data has been supporting JPL with development of an FPGA design based on Alpha Data's Camera Link SDK integrated into the JPL Next Generation Data Collection Systems (NGDCS). NGDCS is specifically tailored for acquisition and high speed pre-processing of large volumes of data from on-board Imaging Spectrometers such as the JPL Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer Next Generation (AVIRIS-NG) and Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer (PRISM). The technology allows acquisition of spectroscopic measurements with up to 480 bands and up to 640 cross-tracks of 16-bit detector pixels generated at rates exceeding 100 frames per second. In addition to the interfacing with the imaging spectrometers, the FPGA simultaneously provides real-time synchronization with the inertial navigation and GPS data to enable accurate ortho-rectification as well as real-time applications. In 2015, real-time mapping of methane plumes was demonstrated with the NGDCS. The project has been successful in low altitude flights (below 6,000 meters), on a Twin Otter, gathering 100 Terra-bytes of data over multiple science missions since 2013. The acquired includes datasets such as field measurements of seagrass beds in Greater Florida bay and the remote sensing of atmospheric methane abundances near Casper, WY, at the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Test Center (RMOTC).

The project has now entered a new high altitude phase, up to 20,000 meters, flying the NGDCS on the ADPE-XRC-6T and host Xeon-based computer system in NASA’s ER-2 Airborne Laboratory. The first test flights so far have verified the ADPE-XRC-6T is deployable for durations over 8 hours, at altitudes over 20,000 meters. At this altitude the external air temperature is as low as -65°C.

Alpha Data's contribution to the project has been supporting JPL in adapting the standard Camera Link SDK software and FPGA design for the ADPE-XRC-6T with FMC-CAMERALINK module to interface with the Imaging Spectrometer and GPS/IMU data. In addition to the custom IP, Alpha Data assisted with the integration of the ADPE-XRC-6T health and real-time reporting functionality of the Alpha Data hardware, with the JPL application, such that during flight trials the various temperature sensors, and supply monitors can be recorded to verify the Alpha Data board functions within the expected operating limits.

The Alpha Data FPGA board and custom IPs were provided under contract to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, which designed, built, and is operating the AVIRIS-NG and PRISM for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

Alpha Data’s modular and embedded deployment-ready products are designed for all data acquisition and control systems worldwide. Specifications and details for Alpha Data avionics embedded products can be obtained by contacting Alpha Data at

More about AVIRIS-NG and PRISM

For more details of AVIRIS-NG follow the links below:

and for PRISM the links below:

About Alpha Data

Established in 1993, Alpha Data is a world leader in embedded FPGA platforms and systems. The company supplies essential hardware and development tools to OEMs developing innovative systems for high performance computing, defence, communications, signal processing, instrumentation and life sciences applications. Its products and services provide an integrated framework from prototype-to-production and support a variety of protocols and standards, including XMC, VPX, PMC/PMC-X, VME/VXS, Compact-PCI, PCI/PCI-X®, PCI Express® and reconfigurable FMC and XRM-IO hardware formats. For more information on Alpha Data and its products, please visit

SC17 - Supercomputing Conference (Denver, CO)

12-17th Nov 2017

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Contact: Adam Smith for further information.

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