Ada and GNAT Pro selected to help run NASA CLARREO Pathfinder mission

BOULDER, Colo. The University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) has selected the Ada language and Ada's GNAT Pro for the ARM Cortex product for NASA’s Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder mission.

CLARREO Pathfinder is tasked with deploying a reflected solar spectrometer on the International Space Station (ISS) -- starting in 2021 -- that will detect the complete spectrum of radiation from the sun reflected by Earth.

Officials at LASP say that the center has selected the Ada language -- instead of the C language -- to develop the orchestration and interface portions of the CLARREO Pathfinder flight software, the portion responsible for controlling the instruments and interfacing with the ISS. The Ada application will run on an ARM Cortex M1 FPGA [field-programmable gate array] board, using a bare-metal configuration together with the Ravenscar microkernel provided by the GNAT Pro toolchain.

Mathew Merkow, CLARREO Pathfinder flight software lead at LASP, said of the selection: "We selected Ada and the Ravenscar microkernel 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. 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,” said 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.”