Why is Software Systems important?

ESA's ATV Control Centre, Toulouse

Software enables highly complex activities - such satellite precision manoeuvres, autonomous navigation of rovers on a planetary terrain - and provides a means to recover from malfunctions and compensate for hardware equipment defects. Software must work correctly first time in orbit, and getting it right is crucial to mission success: software bugs have been the doom of many spacecraft, going back to the earliest days of space exploration.

The added value of software to space systems has increased greatly in recent decades, reflecting the ever growing functionality and autonomy of spacecraft and the amount of mission data to be collected and processed.

Software systems engineering is needed to ensure that the software is properly designed, developed and verified, like for any physical equipment.

Last update: 20 September 2009

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