Machine Design

Finding bugs in software

To make missions safer, NASA scientists are developing a software checker program to find bugs in computer code quickly and accurately

. " Eliminating bugs is important for NASA because even simple software bugs can lead to the loss of a mission," says NASA researcher Guillaume Brat. "With C Global Surveyor (CGS) software, we detect what can interrupt the program, as well as what can cause the program to crash," he adds.

The software that drives space missions contains thousands of lines of code. Programmers have had to check this code manually, a task that's both time consuming and expensive. During testing, CGS took only 25 min to check hundreds of thousands of lines of code. It checks all flight software commands and then reports back, listing code that is bug-free, code that has bugs, and code that needs more checking by other means. According to researchers, CGS can also detect errors in unexpected situations during validations of mission software, conducting mathematical proofs to arrive at answers.

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