Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 6th Aug 2012 14:42 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes As the first images of the Mars Curiosity lander start pouring in, let's talk about what operating system it runs. As I found out via Hacker News, the project runs on VxWorks, a very popular embedded operating system used for truly mission critical tasks. I'd love to know just how much work has gone into making it bug-free - this isn't the kind of environment where you want code to fail.
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Not new
by zima on Mon 6th Aug 2012 14:56 UTC
zima
Member since:
2005-07-06

Previous Mars rovers also used it, and quite a few other space missions in general: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VxWorks#Spacecraft
(since Intel owns them now - is there some internal movement to make x86 the "premier" architecture, towards some radiation-hardened x86 chips? I imagine Intel could see this as worthy even just for PR)

Other space-used OS that I stumbled on once: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RTEMS - and this one's OSS.
I would be curious to know what other OS are up there (apart from... well, just look what's on the screen ;p http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Iss017e015059.jpg )

About the first images - FINALLY, the promise fulfilled!!111 (I was watching live NASA TV coverage) See, as a kid, I was kinda promised a "live pictures" from the coverage of Pathfinder landing - the announcements of the upcoming coverage, on my national TV network, presented it like that ...so the actual coverage felt a bit underwhelming back then.
But not any more - first picture in the first few minutes after touchdown!

Edited 2012-08-06 15:03 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Not new
by Treza on Mon 6th Aug 2012 18:34 in reply to "Not new"
Treza Member since:
2006-01-11

is there some internal movement to make x86 the "premier" architecture, towards some radiation-hardened x86 chips?

Intel does not manufacture anymore simple CPUs (Pentium class) nor it sells IPs to third parties (unlike ARM).
All current Intel designs are extremely unsuited for really critical applications, as they are far too complex and non deterministic (impossible to prove the temporal behaviour).
In addition, space applications often use special semiconductor processes (>100nm for radiation hard) and modifications of the sources, like, for example, using triple redundancy for registers.

Curiosity is based on a IBM-derived PowerPC RAD750 (G3) running at 200 MHz.

Reply Parent Score: 8

RE[2]: Not new
by zima on Mon 6th Aug 2012 19:26 in reply to "RE: Not new"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Oh I realize what MSL uses (and others http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Radiation-hardened_microproce... ), the constraints and goals, and that Intel doesn't pursuit them with present designs - thing is, they probably could fairly easily considering their resources, and be quite successful at it (even if only in a decade or two, considering the typical inertia of avionics systems)

Intel does maintain simpler, in-order, sort of Pentium-derived cores - with Atom and Larrabee/MIC architecture.

Anyway, glancing more thoroughly at VxWorks Wiki article in the meantime, I noticed "Native 64-bit operating system[7] (only one 64-bit architecture supported: X86-64)" - so maybe, over time, Intel does plan to make its chips the premium choice for users of that OS (and Intel would probably like the publicity from usage in space missions). Why would Intel buy them out otherwise, anyway?

Reply Parent Score: 2