AWS Public Sector Blog

AWS joins the Digital IF Interoperability (DIFI) Consortium

There are more than 5,000 active satellites orbiting Earth, a number that is expected to triple over the next decade, according to a satellite market forecast from Euroconsult. Spacecraft operations complexity has also rocketed with increased orbital activity. Satellite operations have shifted from transmit-and-receive functionality to complex operations such as tipping and cueing and re-configuring satellites communication payload on demand. Operations in space are typically controlled on the ground, so scaling ground stations is vital to support the growth in space. However, scaling ground stations has become challenging due to the lack of interoperability between ground systems and the limited software-based solutions.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) helps customers build satellites, conduct space and launch operations, and leverage cloud-powered infrastructure on the ground. To further promote scalability and flexibility across the space industry, AWS has joined the Digital IF Interoperability (DIFI) Consortium. The DIFI Consortium is an independent group of space companies, organizations, and government agencies from around the world that promote an open and simple standard to facilitate interoperability of ground systems supporting space operations.

Earth observation constellations are rapidly scaling the scope and size of their missions. New low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications (satcom) players are launching constellations of several hundreds or even thousands of satellites. Meanwhile traditional geostationary orbit (GEO) and medium Earth orbit (MEO) satcom operators are developing new software-defined satellites. Spacecraft need ground stations to download their space data, receive telemetry, tracking, and commanding (TT&C) functions, and to deliver connectivity. Managing the new scale and complexity in space with traditional ground station solutions can be a challenge. To adapt, ground stations need to increase flexibility, simplify their operations, and embrace software-based solutions.

Software-based solutions are possible only with digital signals, but antenna systems use analog intermediate frequency (IF). Digitizing the IF signal to and from the antenna is the first step for the digital transformation of ground stations. In this process, the analog radio frequency data is converted into digital and vice-versa. Digitizing radio frequency signals using a defined, open, and simple standard that can be widely adopted is one of the goals of DIFI Consortium. Once the satellite data is digitized, it can be processed, stored, and distributed using generally available cloud services at the edge and in the AWS Cloud.

Digitizing analog IF with the DIFI open standard allows new ground station’s architectures based on cloud services. The broad utilization of open standards can help accelerate the growth of software-defined and cloud-based ground station solutions, and allow the space industry to focus on rapid innovation. Read more about the satellite ground segment virtualization using AWS.

Learn more about DIFI Consortium. Download the Digital IF Interoperability Standard here.

If you want to discuss how AWS can support the digital transformation of your ground stations and satellite operations, you can contact us directly.

Read more about AWS for aerospace and satellite:

Subscribe to the AWS Public Sector Blog newsletter to get the latest in AWS tools, solutions, and innovations from the public sector delivered to your inbox, or contact us.

Please take a few minutes to share insights regarding your experience with the AWS Public Sector Blog in this survey, and we’ll use feedback from the survey to create more content aligned with the preferences of our readers.