Brand-new DRC application delivered to ESA for Earth satellite observation data reception and dissemination.


ESA has just qualified DRC (Data Reception and Circulation), a brand-new application developed by GTD for the ESA’s EO PDGS (Earth Observation Payload Data Ground Segment) system, required for performing the Data Reception, the function of receiving auxiliary and payload data by sources outside the PDGS, and the Data Circulation exchanging data among centres federated into a distributed ESA’s and 3rd party missions user network.

DRC has received green light for its transfer to maintenance, and is expected to be deployed soon on its first operational ESA mission. 

Figure 1: DRC operational context (illustration by CGI)


Until the arrival of DRC, the ESA was relying on a mix of custom scripts and old, unmaintained tools for the reception & circulation of the vast amount of payload data files generated during the lifespan of a typical Earth Observation mission. Files involved in EO missions are usually huge and they are continuously generated, as new data arrives from the satellite, so they need to be quickly and reliably distributed to the appropriate subsystems for further processing.


CGI, currently in charge of PDGS evolution and maintenance services, awarded GTD the contract to create the new DRC, delivering ESA a common & unified tool for the PDGS unattended data distribution needs, while at the same time providing the necessary flexibility to be tailored to the specificities of the different Earth Observation missions. The new tool would need to take care of the automatic reception & circulation of the payload data files for EO missions at ESRIN, through a bunch of different network protocols (FTP, FTPS, SFTP, HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP) and methods.


After considering the cost of updating the existing unfamiliar, although functional, applications currently in use, a decision was taken to propose the creation of a new software solution from scratch, fully adapted to the system requirements. The new tool would take advantage of both the GTD experience in similar projects (EUMETSAT’s DIF, GFT) and the use of powerful, well-maintained software libraries such as Qt or cURL. The proposed DRC solution is built upon modern paradigms, such as object-oriented programming, multithreading and client/server architecture, and is focused on performance, modularity, reliability, security, maintainability, automatic testing and continuous integration.


The new DRC system is intended to be rapidly deployed for the coming Earth Observation missions at ESRIN.