University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics adopts Ada and AdaCore GNAT Pro to develop, test NASA CLARREO Pathfinder flight software

NEW YORK. Engineers in the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) working on NASA’s Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder mission are opting to use the Ada programming language, used for aerospace and defense projects for decades. They’ve selected the Ada language and are using GNAT Pro for the ARM Cortex product from AdaCore, provider of software development and verification tools with headquarters in Paris and New York, as they build and test the CLARREO Pathfinder flight software.

May 25th, 2018
University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics adopts Ada and AdaCore GNAT Pro to develop, test NASA CLARREO Pathfinder flight software
University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics adopts Ada and AdaCore GNAT Pro to develop, test NASA CLARREO Pathfinder flight software

NEW YORK. Engineers in the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) working on NASA’s Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder mission are opting to use the Ada programming language, used for aerospace and defense projects for decades. They’ve selected the Ada language and are using GNAT Pro for the ARM Cortex product from AdaCore, provider of software development and verification tools with headquarters in Paris and New York, as they build and test the CLARREO Pathfinder flight software.

CLARREO will deploy a Reflected Solar spectrometer on the International Space Station (ISS) starting in 2021 to detect the complete spectrum of radiation from the Sun reflected by Earth.

LASP engineers have chosen the Ada language over C, to develop the orchestration and interface portions of the CLARREO Pathfinder flight software, which is responsible for controlling the instruments and interfacing with the ISS. The application will run on an ARM Cortex M1 field-programmable gate array (FPGA) board, using a bare metal configuration together with the Ravenscar micro-kernel provided by the GNAT Pro toolchain.

CLARREO Pathfinder Calibration and Inter-Calibration Concepts: CLARREO Pathfinder has two primary objectives to demonstrate essential measurement technologies on orbit: 1) (top) calibrate the instrument using stable, well-known sources: the Sun and the Moon and 2) (bottom) transfer that calibration to other instruments that cross its path. (Images: NASA)

"We selected Ada and the Ravenscar micro-kernel for several reasons: it is as efficient as C, allows object-oriented design, will increase reliability, and provides a tasking system without introducing a great deal of complexity like many of the other options we considered,” says Mathew Merkow, CLARREO Pathfinder flight software lead at LASP. “Ada provided an extremely robust and efficient foundation for our framework, Adamant. We partnered with AdaCore to port Ravenscar to the Cortex M1; they have been a great partner, and we are excited to continue our relationship with them on this and future projects."

“The CLARREO Pathfinder project represents a new generation of applications developed with Ada, in areas where C has been the traditional choice,” adds Quentin Ochem, lead of business development at AdaCore. “We are excited to support the usage of our technology to meet the ever-increasing reliability requirements and challenges of space missions.”

CPF is scheduled to launch to the ISS in the 2021 timeframe.

Founded in 1994, AdaCore supplies software development and verification tools for mission-critical, safety-critical and security-critical systems. Four flagship products highlight the company’s offerings:

· The GNAT Prodevelopment environment for Ada, a complete toolset for designing, implementing, and managing applications that demand high reliability and maintainability;

· The CodePeeradvanced static analysis tool, an automatic Ada code reviewer andvalidator that can detect and eliminate errors both during development and retrospectively on existing software;

· The SPARK Proverification environment, a toolset based on formal methods and oriented toward high-assurance systems; and,

· The QGenmodel-based development tool suite for safety-critical control systems, providing a qualifiable and customizable code generator and static verifier for Simulinkand Stateflow models, and a model-level debugger.

Over the years, customers have used AdaCore products to field and maintain a wide range of critical applications in domains such as commercial avionics, automotive, railway, space, military systems, air traffic management/control, medical devices and financial services. AdaCore has an extensive and growing worldwide customer base; see www.adacore.com/industries/for further information.

AdaCore products are open source and come with expert online support provided by the developers themselves. The company has North American headquarters in New York and European headquarters in Paris.

The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) was established in 1948, a decade before NASA. It is the world’s only research institute to have sent instruments to all eight planets and Pluto.

LASP combines all aspects of space exploration through its expertise in science, engineering, mission operations, and scientific data analysis. As part of CU Boulder, LASP also works to educate and train the next generation of space scientists, engineers, and mission operators by integrating undergraduate and graduate students into working teams. Students take their unique experiences with them into government or industry or remain in academia to continue the cycle of exploration.


In 2016, CLARREO received authorization to conduct a Pathfinder mission called CLARREO Pathfinder (CPF). Its goal is to reduce risk, demonstrate essential techniques and technologies, and advance the science for a full CLARREO mission. LASP is an affiliate of CU Boulder’s AeroSpace Ventures initiative, a collaboration among aerospace-related departments, institutes, centers, government labs, and industry partners.

The CPF instrument is a reflected solar spectrometer that measures energy from the sun reflected back from Earth. Benefits of CPF include demonstrating improved measurement accuracy by factors of 5-10 and demonstrating the ability to inter-calibrate with other Earth-observing sensors.

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