Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 27th Sep 2010 16:55 UTC
Geek stuff, sci-fi... "Watch a Nasa shuttle burning a path into space or a video of Saturn's rings taken by the Cassini satellite and it's hard not to marvel at man's technological prowess. But the surprising truth is that space exploration is built on IT which lags many years behind that found in today's consumer gadgets and corporate PCs. To this day, Nasa still uses elements of technology that powered the moon landings of the 1960s and 1970s, while the International Space Station - the manned station circling the Earth 250 miles above our heads - relies on processors dating back more than two decades."
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RE: Radiation...
by DigitalAxis on Mon 27th Sep 2010 22:13 UTC in reply to "Radiation..."
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NASA chose Linux to run the control computers for the New Horizons probe (Pluto mission) for exactly that reason: Given that their control software would have to communicate with a space probe 9+ years after launch, they needed some assurance that the software would still run on the supercomputers of the distant future. With Linux, they can tinker with any/every aspect of the OS to make sure everything still works. When New Horizons was launched in 2006, we were still on GTK+2.8, QT3.3, Firefox 1.5, everyone was still using Pentium 4s (or equivalent), Windows Vista hadn't been released yet, and the iPhone and Android didn't exist yet.

On the other hand, NASA is going to have these problems, because they're still supporting spacecraft at least as old as the Voyager probes (launched in 1977) with computers equivalent to the Atari 2600 and such little memory that they have to be reprogrammed remotely nearly any time they're asked to do something different, AS WELL AS stuff like New Horizons that can basically fly themselves, only phoning home at prearranged checkin times or when it has problems. (There have been large improvements in spacecraft software in the last 30 years, though not as big as the rest of the technology sector)

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