Actel Returns to Mars with Radiation-Tolerant, Radiation-Hardened FPGAs

2/12/2004 - In a stunning sequel to the 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission, Actel Corporation announced that its radiation-tolerant and radiation-hardened field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have returned to Mars, playing critical roles throughout the missions, both American and European. From Delta launch vehicles to orbiting, landing and actively roving the surface of the planet, Actel has provided hundreds of FPGAs to enable implementation of various mission-critical digital logic functions, including power management, attitude and orbit control, command and data handling, and instrumentation and telemetry. The space-optimized FPGAs were chosen because of the inherent benefits of the company's nonvolatile products - proven reliability at extreme temperatures and live at power-up functionality all on a single chip, which reduces component count, thereby minimizing power consumption and saving board space and weight.

"Since 1990, Actel's space FPGAs have been onboard more than 100 launches and accepted for flight-unit applications on more than 300 satellites. When the Mars Pathfinder rover landed on Mars in 1997, it was Actel devices that helped to send back thousands of amazing photographs - a clear measure of the success of that mission," explained Barry Marsh, vice president, product marketing, Actel Corporation. "Today, Actel's devices continue to be ubiquitous in the exploration of space with hundreds of devices utilized for multiple Mars missions. We are pleased to reinforce our role as a critical player in the technology behind the major breakthrough occurring in space today and we will continue to design, test and develop cutting-edge products for use in space."

The Actel radiation-tolerant and radiation-hardened devices provided critical functions on the Delta launch vehicles, which propelled the Spirit and Opportunity spacecrafts toward Mars. During the six-month flight from Earth to Mars, Actel's devices were employed on central system computers, performing navigation activities, including star tracking and sun sensing. On each of the Mars Explorer rovers, Actel's space FPGAs are the "heart and soul" of the 10 cameras, which capture astounding images of the planet's surface. The devices also enable key radio communications, which relay those images back to the orbiters.

Aboard the orbiters, the devices enable the relay stations, which transmit images and vital control information between Mars and Earth. Specifically, on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter, Actel's offerings are also being leveraged for many mission-critical functions, including the solid state recorders, which alone use more than 20 Actel FPGAs.

Over the last decade, Actel FPGAs have been onboard more than 100 launches and flown on over 300 satellites, including Atlas II, Echostar, SBIRS-High, International Space Station, Mars Pathfinder, Mars Explorer Rovers 1 and 2, Mars Express Orbiter, Spirit and Opportunity Rovers, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

About Actel
Actel Corporation is a supplier of innovative programmable logic solutions, including field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) based on antifuse and flash technologies, high-performance intellectual property (IP) cores, software development tools and design services, targeted for the high-speed communications, application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) replacement and radiation-tolerant markets. Founded in 1985, Actel employs more than 500 people worldwide. The Company is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol ACTL and is headquartered at 2061 Stierlin Court, Mountain View, CA, 94043-4655. Telephone: 888-99-ACTEL (992-2835). Internet:

The Actel name and logo are registered trademarks of Actel Corporation.

Previous Page | News by Category | News Search

If you found this page useful, bookmark and share it on: