Mars rover Curiosity improves image on Patch Monday

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is getting a software patch that will improve its image processing, among other important areas. If you think patch management is hard in your organization, imagine what it's like at a distance of 350 million miles.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers are willing JPL to succeed.

Curisity on Mars

By Richi Jennings: Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Why not install the Gmail 'undo' lab?..

Sharon Gaudin reports... from spaaaace:

The software upgrade, dubbed R10...is waiting to be activated [and] will take four days to update.

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JPL...programmers and engineers have long been working on the software, as well as the upgrade process. ... [R10] holds advanced controls to drive Curiosity, as well as to operate [the] robotic arm...and its ability to spot hazards in its path.  MORE

Christina DesMarais adds:

Curiosity...has been getting what NASA calls a “brain transplant.” ... It will also give the rover better image processing ability. ... It’s a pretty big deal considering [it's] happening from 350 million miles away and if something goes wrong it could mean the last contact...with Curiosity.  MORE

Simon Sharwood shows spirit:

NASA tested the upgrade on August 11th in an exercise [that] “demonstrated that the new software is ready to support the upcoming surface operations mission phase." ... The rover spent the remainder of the [time] using its old OS, which nonetheless managed to send home some rather impressive pics.  MORE

It reminds Alan Boyle of the old days:

The old software, which helped Curiosity...land safely, is being phased out. The new software is being phased in — first on the primary computer, and then on the backup computer.

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The switchover is required because of the limitations of Curiosity's onboard memory. ... At the time that the rover was designed and built...Curiosity's computer [was] the state of the art in radiation-hardened electronics.

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However, software transitions can be tricky:...in 2004, a computer glitch took [Spirit] out of action for two weeks.  MORE

Your humble blogwatcher calls it "The Fastest Computer on Mars":

Mars Science Laboratory, better known as Curiosity...[is] based around a RAD750 computer, produced by BAE Systems Electronic Solutions. ... [It's] a hardened, single-board design, which can cope with...radiation, wide extremes of temperature, and draws about 10 Watts of power.

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[It's] based on the PowerPC 750 design, which [is] mature and proven...important attributes for a critical application such as this. ... Operating system duties are handled by the classic VxWorks real-time OS from Wind River.  MORE
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