MicroPython Newsletter Issue 3

Archive and discussion of the MicroPython Newsletter
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MicroPython Newsletter Issue 3

Post by Damien » Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:53 pm

Dear community,

In this third issue of the MicroPython Newsletter we would like to fill you in on some details regarding the use of MicroPython in space applications.

Space qualification and OBCPs

Over the past year or so we have been working with a Belgian company called Spacebel to help them qualify a version of MicroPython for use in space as an On Board Control Procedure (OBCP) engine. This builds on our previous work done for the European Space Agency to make MicroPython run on LEON targets, with a SPARC processor.

OBCPs are procedures, or scripts, that can be dynamically uploaded and executed on board a spacecraft even after it has been launched. They can be used to change or extend the functionality of a spacecraft during its mission. Using MicroPython as an OBCP engine would give operators the ability to write such control scripts in Python, allowing them to write expressive and concise code using a familiar language. One of the main challenges in integrating MicroPython as an OBCP engine is to ensure it is well isolated in the system and that it does not pose a risk to other parts of the spacecraft's system if something goes wrong. This requires a process of qualification of the MicroPython software to make sure it is suitable for flight.

Qualification requires deep static and dynamic analysis of code to build confidence that it is correct and demonstrate that it is highly unlikely to fail. For any complex piece of software it is virtually impossible to prove that it is perfect and will always behave correctly (even defining this concept is hard), and so effort is spent following established engineering principles, and being as rigorous as possible to test and check and test again the code. As part of the work done with Spacebel many new tests were written for MicroPython and the bugs that were found were fixed. The vast majority of these improvements have already been made available in the main, public code repository. Code coverage on the core runtime and virtual machine (code in the py/ directory) is now at over 99.2 percent, with only about 125 lines uncovered out of around 15,540 total lines.

The work done with Spacebel was presented in May this year at the Data Systems In Aerospace conference. If you are interested to learn more of the details of OBCPs and how MicroPython fits into this picture, then take a look at the presentation and read the paper.

We are very excited indeed that MicroPython has been integrated into an OBCP space system. Among other things, it means that MicroPython is made more robust for everyone and shows it can be used inside critical systems. And there is the possibility that it will be used to control a real space mission in the future!


Last week during SciPy in Austin, Texas (USA), Roberto Colistete Jr. held a MicroPython workshop and Sprint to attract new developers to contribute to scientific MicroPython modules.

Melbourne MicroPython meetups! There is a monthly MicroPython meetup in Melbourne (Australia) and an associated blog that you can read: https://melbournemicropythonmeetup.github.io. Be sure to drop by if you are in the area. Next meetup is scheduled for 25th July.

From Damien and the MicroPython team.

(If you're not already subscribed, you can receive this newsletter via email by signing up at: https://micropython.org/newsletter/)

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Re: MicroPython Newsletter Issue 3

Post by philwilkinson40 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:49 pm

thanks for the in depth update @Damien, this looks an extremely exciting application and development of Micropython.

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Re: MicroPython Newsletter Issue 3

Post by chuckbook » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:44 pm

Thanks for sharing this information. I finally figured out why we chose MicroPython!
Take my respect!

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Re: MicroPython Newsletter Issue 3

Post by robmarkcole » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:44 am

Are there any publications on the space qualification?

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