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Irish research centre signs €300k contract with European Space Agency

Lero, the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre, will work the European Space Agency in order to produce complex software that will be used to assist space missions.

Image: Steve Jurvetson via Creative Commons

THE IRISH SOFTWARE Engineering Research Centre (Lero) has signed a research contract worth €300,000 with the European Space Agency (ESA) today.

The 18-month work programme will begin this September and will be led by Lero Director Professor Mike Hinchey, along researchers based in the University of Limerick and Trinity College Dublin. As well as being Director of Lero, Hinchey is currently also a Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Limerick and was previously a Director of the Software Engineering Laboratory at NASA.

Commenting on the awarding of the contract, Hinchey said that it was “a further sign of the impact that Lero has made in software engineering research on a global scale”.

“Modern space research missions are critically dependent on complex software for their success: flight control software; software tailored for each specific scientific experiment carried aboard a spacecraft; and the operating system software that manages everything.

“The correctness of all of this software is of crucial importance as a failure in one component could jeopardise the correct behaviour of the rest, and vast amounts of time and money are spent on the verification of their functioning,” Hinchey said.

The group at Trinity College Dublin, led by Dr Andrew Butterfield, in collaboration with their Lero partners at the University of Limerick, are leading an effort to explore the feasibility of developing a software framework that would allow all the scientific experiment and flight control software to be safely isolated from one another, so that failure of one component cannot lead to the failure of others.

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