Software and Simulation Laboratory
The Software and Simulation Laboratory is where software technologies are demonstrated and hands-on software prototyping and testing carried out for the benefit of ESA projects and industry. It consists of equipment and computer installations to develop and test software as well as simulators and ground support equipment used in the development and verification of space systems.
What is Software Simulation?
Software is a critical component of space systems, both space and ground. As more functions and intelligence are implemented in software, its design and reliable operations have become a complex and highly demanding task. The flight software onboard a typical modern spacecraft stretches to hundreds of thousands of lines of code, while programs of similar elaboration oversee supporting ground systems.
Software of such complexity demands careful verification to guarantee that it operates correctly and does not endanger the achievement of the space mission. Software is intangible, but errors or omissions buried within it have very real effects, having led to the partial or complete loss of space missions.
The Software and Simulation Laboratory provides independent verification and validation of software developed for space. In addition the Laboratory also evaluates more efficient and reliable methods for designing software in future.
As well as being an important mission component, software is also a vital work tool. The Laboratory develops computer simulations both graphical, interactive 3D simulations of space hardware as well as simulations of satellite systems and missions which have many uses through an ESA project's life cycle, from initial design through to operational planning as well as training of astronauts and ground personnel. Software is also extensively used for ground-based testing of space hardware, as essential part of the so called Electrical Ground Support Equipment (EGSE). The EGSE can be connected to a satellite and check its correct performance by analyzing its responses to commands as if it were in orbit.
Last update: 29 September 2009