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Critical Software validates critical systems in satellite that studies climate change

CryoSat-2 is set to measure thickness of the ice caps

(Coimbra, 6th of April, 2010) – CryoSat-2 is a satellite whose mission is to precisely measure alterations in the thickness of ice floating in the oceans and variations in the thickness of ice caps located in Greenland and Antarctica. Critical Software was responsible for the Verification & Validation of the most critical software systems within the satellite, deploying a team of engineers in an effort that resulted in the detection of some anomalies in critical software systems.

“The participation of a team from Critical Software in Friedrichshafen and Munich (Germany) was essential in the effort to complete the different stages of software and integrated system testing. More so, the contribution of Critical Software was broadly praised by members of EADS Astrium”, noted Bruno Carvalho, Business Development Manager for the space market at Critical Software, adding that “recently, Critical Software confirmed that two more functionalities in the satellite’s central system were prepared for flight without any risk of failure. These verifications were made at the request of EADS Astrium and of the European Space Agency (ESA)”.

This earth observation space mission aims to understand the effects of climate change on our planet’s polar regions. The loss of the earth’s ice sheets has an impact in global warming. Given that ice is essential for climate regulation and ocean level, the consequences of any change in terms of ice has an effect all over the planet. Several satellites are already analyzing stretches of ice, namely the Europeans satellites Envisat and ERS and the American IceSat. The data gathered since 1978 show that the average size per year of the stretches of ice in the Arctic diminished 2.7% per decade.

“We need to understand exactly how climate change affects Polar Regions, therefore there is a urgent need to determine how ice thickness, both on land or drifting in the oceans, is changing”, mentions Nuno Silva, Manager for Space Programmes at Critical Software, concluding with the idea that “the data that CrySat-2 will supply will fill the current gaps in our knowledge and will allow for a better understanding of the impact of ice in earth’s ecosystem”.

CryoSat-2 is the successor to Cryosat, which was lost due to a failure during launch in October of 2005. During that time ESA decided to go ahead with a second version of the same satellite, given the quantity of work already developed and the importance and relevance of the data that satellite should gather. And thus was born Cryosat-2. The original objective of the CryoSat mission was to confirm the tendency towards the reduction in the extension of frozen areas. Given that this tendency is now confirmed, CryoSat-2 is meant to illustrate it.

After roughly four years following the decision to go forward with CrySat-2, the satellite was finally ready for launch. CryoSat-2 will survey the ice caps with an extreme precision, orbiting at an altitude of 700Km and reaching latitudes of 88ยบ. “The launch of CryoSat-2 will be a very special moment for Critical Software, as this is one of the company’s first missions the space area, but also for the emotional weight of seeing almost 10 years of work coming to fruition, not only of their elements but also by all the European partners involved in this project”, underlines Nuno Silva.

The launch of CryoSat-2 can be viewed online at