Mars Rover’s Daily Boot

Scientists are pretty convinced at this point that Mars once held water, but other curious features on the surface have turned out to be the mission’s own footprints — strange flower-like patterns in the Martian dust are imprints from seams in the landing airbags, and shiny objects in the distance turn out to be discarded heat shields.

Unfortunately, the operating system on the Rover has taken to rebooting itself every time they download data from the craft. Appears there’s an issue with the FAT-formatted memory card in the craft, which leads to the OS thinking it’s out of memory when it isn’t. Talk about shipping with bugs.

Note: This post has been changed from the original – the cnet article implies that DOS was involved, when the OS is actually by WindRiver — I was taken aback. Nevermind…

Music: David Thomas & the Two Pale Boys :: Nowheresville

5 Replies to “Mars Rover’s Daily Boot”

  1. Interestingly, the Mars rovers use a PowerPC chip:

    “The computer in each Mars Exploration Rover runs with a 32-bit Rad 6000 microprocessor, a radiation-hardened version of the PowerPC chip used in some models of Macintosh computers, operating at a speed of 20 million instructions per second. Onboard memory includes 128 megabytes of random access memory, augmented by 256 megabytes of flash memory and smaller amounts of other non-volatile memory, which allows the system to retain data even without power.”

    source: one of NASA’s pages, but I’ve lost the url :(

    Not surprisingly, the above information yielded the following smart-ass comment from a Slashdotter:

    “Despite the rover being powered by PPC, and hardened for space use and being gold plated by government contractors, it still is cheaper than a comparable Macintosh.”

  2. Yep, they mean the DOS FAT filesystem – leave it to C:Net to get confused about it.

    But I must say: as far as minimalistic OSes for embedded computers go, DOS wouldn’t be the worst choice. It doesn’t do much, which also means that it can’t do much wrong.

  3. i was hoping you were going to announce that scientists are pretty conviced at this point that Mars contins to roots of muslim music.

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