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CRITICAL Software's technology and expertise support the European Space Agency's mission

January 21, 2014

ENP Newswire - 21 January 2014

Release date- 17012014 - CRITICAL Software's technology is on board the European Space Agency's Gaia project, an ambitious five-year mission to create a rigorous and extensive map of our galaxy, which will reveal its composition, formation and evolution.

CRITICAL Software's technology and expertise were also crucial at other stages of the project's development.

Lisbon, 6th January, 2014: CRITICAL Software, which specialises in the delivery of reliable software solutions for critical information systems has contributed to the European Space Agency's Global Astrometric Interferometer for Astrophysics (Gaia) mission, destined to create the most accurate map of our galaxy ever made.

The primary goal of the Gaia mission is to create a three-dimensional map of our galaxy, more precise and accurate than ever before, by measuring the positions and motions of about one billion members of the galaxy's population of roughly 100 billion stars. The map will enable us to answer questions about the origin and evolution of our home galaxy.

CRITICAL Software has participated in several projects related to the development and implementation of the Gaia mission, working in close collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). CRITICAL Software provided a criticality assessment for the Gaia Mission Control System (MCS) software, including: i) reception of scientific data operations and command updates; ii) monitoring of mission parameters; iii) orbit maintenance operations; iv) navigation correction manoeuvres; v) preventing ground eclipses affecting the satellite.

CRITICAL Software also participated in the creation of the Focal Plane Assembly (FPA) simulator, which generated images that simulated those the Gaia mission will capture. The FPA validation was performed against reference images generated by the simulator, designed using a CCD (Charge Coupled Device) physics model and the physical characteristics of celestial bodies.

The simulation results consolidated the FPA against the CCD specifications and allowed integration of the simulator video processing unit with the Gaia probe, supporting the end-to-end validation of the data processing chain.

Additionally, CRITICAL Software supported the Gaia Video Processing Unit (VPU) software production team in Astrium UK. The VPU is responsible for the real-time processing and commanding of star data transmitted by Gaia's focal plane assembly. CRITICAL Software was responsible for the architectural specification of the VPU's dedicated pre-processing board, as well as the design and implementation of the VPU's software, including the payload algorithms sequencer, payload interface, health & monitoring, FDIR and low-level hardware interfaces.

The Gaia spacecraft, successor to the Hipparcos mission, weighs 2050 kg and was launched from Kourou in French Guiana on 19 December 2013 by Arianespace, using a Soyuz ST-B/Fregat-MT rocket. The spacecraft will operate in orbit around the Sun, at a distance of 1.5 million km beyond the Earth's orbit. Gaia will monitor each of its target stars over a period of five years to compile a 3D space catalogue of approximately one billion astronomical objects.

'CRITICAL Software is proud and thrilled to be participating in another significant space industry project. The European Space Agency's preference for our solutions and expertise evidences our undeniable ability and leadership as a main technology supplier in the most demanding and competitive worldwide market areas of the space exploration sector' said Paulo Guedes, Business Development Manager at CRITICAL Software.


CRITICAL Software is a global software company that provides reliable technology for mission- and business-critical information systems to leading companies in a variety of markets. CRITICAL Software's solutions help companies control their costs and improve performance by providing the real-time feedback needed to quickly identify and solve issues that inhibit process, product and service improvements. Founded in Portugal in 1998, CRITICAL Software currently has offices in Coimbra, Lisbon and Oporto, and subsidiaries in the UK (with offices in Southampton and Yeovil), Germany (Frankfurt), the USA (California), Brazil (Sao Paulo), Mozambique (Maputo) and Angola (Luanda). The company operates a quality management system certified to CMMI Level5, ISO 9001:2008 Tick-IT, ISO 15504, NATO AQAP 2210, AQAP 2120 and EN9100.

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Source: ENP Newswire

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