NASA STTR 2015 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 15-1 T5.01-9993
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Autonomous Communications Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Wideband Autonomous Cognitive Radios for Networked Satellites Communications

NAME: Bluecom Systems And Consulting, LLC NAME: The Regents of the University of New Mexico
STREET: 801 University Southeast, Suite 100 STREET: 1700 Lomas Blvd NE Ste 2200, MSC-01 1247
CITY: Albuquerque CITY: Albuquerque
STATE/ZIP: NM  87106 - 4345 STATE/ZIP: NM  87131 - 0001
PHONE: (505) 615-1807 PHONE: (505) 277-1264

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Christos Christodoulou
ECE Department, University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131 - 0001
(505) 277-6580

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr Sudharman Jayaweera Kankanamge
801 University SE Ste 100
Albuquerque, NM 87106 - 4345
(505) 615-1807

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Autonomous Communications Systems is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
There is growing recognition that success in a variety of space mission types can be greatly enhanced by making current communication transceivers and networks evolve towards networked communication systems that are intelligent, self-aware and thus can support greater levels of autonomy. This will be especially relevant as networked clusters of smaller-size satellites, made of CubeSats or microsatellites, are more and more used in place of a single monolithic satellite. The proposed wideband autonomous cognitive radios (WACRs) provide an ideal approach to achieving such autonomous and network-aware communications. The BlueCom team proposes to design and develop WACRs during the Phase I of this project by integrating a real-time reconfigurable radio front-end and a field programmable gate array implemented cognitive engine on to a software-defined radio (SDR) platform.

WACRs will have the ability to sense state of the RF spectrum and network and self-optimize its performance in response to the sensed state. The cognitive engine is made of machine-learning aided algorithms to achieve this goal. The SDR platform coupled with a real-time reconfigurable RF front-end will allow the WACR to reconfigure its communication mode as directed by the cognitive engine. This will enable a WACR to overcome communications challenges encountered in space applications including interference, deep fading, waveform agility, delay and very low SNR by dynamically changing its mode of operation. This type of self-aware, autonomous and intelligent communication is what will be required to exploit the full benefits of networked clusters of satellites (e.g. CubeSats) in various mission types including earth monitoring and unmanned autonomous lunar/ planetary exploration.

Phase I deliverables will include a detailed design of a WACR system architecture and a cognitive engine as well as development of cognitive algorithms and a real-time reconfigurable RF front-end/antennas.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Proposed wideband autonomous cognitive radios (WACRs) are an ideal technology to exploit full benefits of networked clusters of satellites (such as CubeSats). Clusters of satellites networked via proposed WACRs offer opportunities for both improving performance of current space communications links as well as exploring new communications paradigms. They can enable various cognitive cooperative communications techniques leading to new approaches to achieving mission success in certain situations. For example, cooperative relaying in a networked cluster of satellites can provide a data path for observing the night side of Mars. WACRs can also be ideal for achieving delay tolerant networking(DTN)in earth monitoring or unmanned lunar/planetary exploration missions: A networked cluster of satellites can provide either a time-sequenced observations of a single location or simultaneous ones at multiple locations. Cognitive cooperative communications enabled by WACRs can be used to link this data to a ground station reliably with minimum delay. Other applications include, a) facilitating higher bandwidth and fewer dropouts in imagery that is sent over "short" distances such as LEO spacecraft-to-ground, b) agility to avoid interference with other systems and to adapt waveforms, c) optimizing bandwidth within power limitations particularly at very long ranges such as interplanetary operations and d) reduction of interference behavior in reception-only modes such as radio astronomy.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Potential non-NASA applications of proposed wideband autonomous cognitive radios (WACRs) include military, homeland security and commercial applications. First, the proposed WACRs are in-line with the vision put-forth in the 2012 PCAST report for allowing coexistence of many different systems in larger spectrum bands without exclusive spectrum licensing. WACRs are an ideal technology to implement such spectrum coexistence. Thus, proposed WACRs can lead to a future universal radio device/system that may meet all communications needs of a user revolutionizing the consumer telecommunications.

Moreover, cognitive radio technology can be utilized in many military applications such as broadband radar systems, directed energy diagnostic tools and covert communication. For example, the proposed filtenna technology can be integrated into the front-end of a radar to provide frequency agility and side-lobe suppression thereby increasing cross-range resolution. The filtenna technology can also be integrated into frequency selective screen sheets to provide frequency agile electromagnetic screens. Such screens can be placed around sensitive electronics and components to protect them from wideband RF threats.

The WACRs can be also be used in unmanned aerial vehicles as well as for achieving reliable emergency/disaster/first-responder communications. The spectrum-, network- and self-aware operation of WACRs provide a robust solution for emergency and first-responder communications.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Network Integration

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