Science Payload FPGA Engineer

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Spire Global is a space-to-cloud analytics company that owns and operates the largest multi-purpose constellation of satellites. Its proprietary data and algorithms provide the most advanced maritime, aviation, and weather tracking in the world. In addition to its constellation, Spire’s data infrastructure includes a global ground station network and 24/7 operations that provide real-time global coverage of every point on Earth.

Job Description

As a Science Instrument FPGA Engineer at Spire, you will be an integral part of a dynamic team that designs, develops, tests, and operates RF (radio-frequency) science instruments for a constellation of Earth-observation nanosatellites. Our particular focus is on the GPS (Global Positioning System) and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) signals for measuring atmospheric and ionospheric states, as well as the condition of the land and ocean surfaces of the Earth. 

You will be involved in various phases of instrument development in the areas of the FPGA (field-programmable gate array) firmware, affiliated software, and testing and deployment of them, to improve the capabilities of the existing payloads as well as newly designed ones in the roadmap. The major topics the present position involves include, but are not limited to, data acquisition of RF signals, DSP (digital signal processing) of RF signals, hardware acceleration of computationally intensive tasks such as GPS/GNSS signal processing, and control of peripheral devices.

Your deliverables will fly on satellites and start gathering valuable Earth observation data in a matter of months, not years, after you join Spire. You will see the data generated by the instrument with your FPGA impacting many people through improved numerical weather forecasts, deepening understanding of the changing climate, and providing insights into various types of natural phenomena and human activities taking place on ground and in space.

Responsibilities of your role

  • To design, implement in VHDL and C++ (Vivado HLS), and test FPGA firmware for existing and new RF science instruments. Typical functionalities include GNSS signal processing, interfacing with the RF front-end circuitry, transferring real-time data streams between FPGA and CPU, and communicating with the software.
  • To develop and test software, in C++, that integrates the FPGA functionality to the software-defined radio application.
  • To gather requirements for various signal-processing and data-manipulation algorithms, implement them, trade off implementation details under constraints, and maximize their performance.
  • To gather various types of data from on-ground tests and on-orbit operation of the instrument, analyze them to verify their implementation, and validate their performance.
  • To effectively and efficiently collaborate with team members in remote offices both in real time and asynchronously, to discuss development plans, run tests, and operate instruments in space.
  • To author design documents and test reports.

Basic qualifications

  • Applicants must have either an MSc or Ph.D. degree in a STEM-related field, or other equivalent qualification.
  • 5 or more years of FPGA development experience that involves real-time data processing (RF, sound, video, LIDAR, communication, etc), sensor data acquisition, and integration with software.
  • Proficiency in C++ (Vivado HLS) and VHDL for FPGA development.
  • Proficiency in Python for data analysis and visualization, and general automation.
  • Full-stack practical knowledge and experience with the Xilinx Zynq SoC (system-on-chip)  development, including firmware-software interface (AXI bus, interrupt, DMA) and software development for embedded Linux systems (devicetree, User I/O, CMA, cache coherency).
  • Ability to operate an actual FPGA + CPU board to test existing / new FPGA firmware.
  • Ability to collect and process large amounts of data to validate / debug the instrument design.
  • Experience with or the ability to quickly adapt to modern and collaborative ways of software and FPGA development (IDE, unit testing, CI/CD, High Level Synthesis, Github, ticket management systems).
  • Familiarity with Linux, Git, and Docker. 
  • Please feel free to contact our recruiting team or apply directly from our website even if you think that not all the boxes are ticked, but you can do much of them and you are excited about the company and the role.

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience with software-defined radio systems.
  • Experience with developing custom embedded GNSS receiver systems using FPGA technology.
  • Strong background in scientific applications of GPS/GNSS signals, in particular for GNSS Reflectometry and GNSS Radio Occultation.
  • Fluency in general radio frequency signal processing techniques, including knowledge of down conversion, filters, sampling, and FFT processing.
  • Experience with developing or interacting with large-scale software written in C/C++.

Spire is Global and our success draws upon the diverse viewpoints, skills and experiences of our employees. We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer and are committed to equal employment opportunity regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, gender identity or veteran status.

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