Sha selected for NASA Advisory Council
CSL Professor Lui Sha has been appointed by Administrator of NASA, Charles Bolden, to the Aeronautics Committee of the NASA Advisory Council. He will serve on this Committee from 2015 to 2017. As a member of NASA Advisory Council, he will advise the Administrator Bolden on NASA’s research programs.
His work made it possible to upgrade software in orbiting satellites, an advance that is critical for the success and safety of GPS-based navigation systems. Without Lui’s system in place, such upgrades would be much more difficult, if not impossible.
His work also saved an interplanetary mission. In 1997, the Mars Pathfinder mission reached Mars, and the Sojourner rover landed on the planet. After a few days of sending back information to earth, the system started repeatedly resetting and unable to continue the mission.
These software problems were discovered to be the result of priority inversion, meaning that high priority tasks are pathologically blocked by low priority tasks. It was a widespread problem embedded in operating systems, languages, and computer buses. Research done by Sha on this problem was used to correct the flaw in the rover, making it reliable once more.
Sha’s service on the NASA Advisory Council will assist the launch of a new approach for research projects underwritten by the agency. “NASA’s new strategy will be to let universities help formulate the key research issues,” said Sha. “In the past NASA said I’m going to do this, and they would write a call for proposals. Now the thinking is that this is not the best way to utilize the talents of the universities. So they would like to the universities have more say — given NASA’s goals — of what is the best research that a university can submit.”
Over the course of his career, Sha has also served as a member of the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Avionics Advisory Team, the National Academy of Science’s committee on Certifiably Dependable Software, the peer review panel of Safety Critical Avionics Systems Branch at NASA’s Langley Research Center, and the NSF’s Planning Committee on Cyber Physical Systems on high assurance medical devices.
Sha was a recipient of the 2009 David Lubkowski Award for the Advancement of Digital Avionics. In 2001 he received the Award for Outstanding Technical Contributions and Leadership in Real-Time Systems from the IEEE Technical Committee on Real-Time Systems. He is a Fellow of ACM and IEEE.