Virtual Real Time (VRT) is a computer program for testing embedded flight software by computational simulation in a workstation, in contradistinction to testing it in its target central processing unit (CPU). The disadvantages of testing in the target CPU include the need for an expensive test bed, the necessity for testers and programmers to take turns using the test bed, and the lack of software tools for debugging in a real-time environment. By virtue of its architecture, most of the flight software of the type in question is amenable to development and testing on workstations, for which there is an abundance of commercially available debugging and analysis software tools. Unfortunately, the timing of a workstation differs from that of a target CPU in a test bed. VRT, in conjunction with closed-loop simulation software, provides a capability for executing embedded flight software on a workstation in a close-to-real-time environment. A scale factor is used to convert between execution time in VRT on a workstation and execution on a target CPU. VRT includes high-resolution operating-system timers that enable the synchronization of flight software with simulation software and ground software, all running on different workstations.

This program was written by Mohammad Shahabuddin and William Reinholtz of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

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Refer to NPO-30689, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.


This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Simulation Testing of Embedded Flight Software

(reference NPO30689) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the February, 2004 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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