[extropy-chat] Re: SPACE: where are we?

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sat Feb 7 17:57:19 UTC 2004

On Sat, Feb 07, 2004 at 08:45:50AM -0800, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:

> I'm not buying it completely -- NASA is not the JPL.  The comments on /.
> suggest that the JPL made a poor choice for the operating system for the

VxWorks is industry-standard hard realtime OS


It's a small market (some 3-4 vendors?).

> landers (and its probably a closed source OS).  But that is no reason

There are no open source deep embedded OSses which are useful. Really none. Open source is not
really a quality criterion per se, as e.g. Linux is a terrible architecture.
But there is really nothing to discuss, because the existing crop of closed
source OSses is designed by competent engineers, and these do deliver.

It is really nontrivial to diagnose a condition with a 12 min turnaround time,
and route around flash memory damage. These engineers deserve major kudos to
keep that lander alive, given the constraints.

> to keep the applications running on top of it closed as well -- as Mike
> has pointed out they have some of the sim on Earth software available
> (or is this closed source as well???).

If they wrote the simulator, and public funds were involved, they should have
open sourced it. Apropos of nothing, here's an open source simulator which is
suitable for robotics: http://darwin2k.com/

Darwin2K is a free, open-source toolkit for robot simulation and automated
design. It features numerous simulation capabilities and an evolutionary
algorithm capable of automatically synthesizing and optimizing robot designs
to meet task-specific performance objectives.

Darwin2K development is being hosted at SourceForge.net; if you're interested
in developing, get a SourceForge account and contact me through SourceForge
(xrayjones-at-users.sourceforge.net). Visit the Darwin2K project homepage for
news, documentation, files, and screenshots.
> *But* I think it was the NOVA show on the Mars landers where Dr. Squyres
> made the point that when they were ready to launch the software had not
> been fully developed and that they were planning to install upgrades
> during the voyage to Mars.  One has to wonder what open source development

Patching spacecraft in transit is routine, though it is used to be used to
address emergencies in transit. Ability to apply patches without reboot is a
pretty good feature for a commercial OS, btw.

> of the Mars Rover software might have been capable of?

Open source doesn't guarantee success. It depends on the people
self-selection dynamics. Horrible failures are the norm, it's probably not a
good idea to risk that, given how much the mission costs.

Using open source for small cheap missions (amateur LEO) is definitely the
way to go. Too bad consumer-grade hardware isn't mil-specced, and has a very
short half life time, typically.
-- Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a>
ICBM: 48.07078, 11.61144            http://www.leitl.org
8B29F6BE: 099D 78BA 2FD3 B014 B08A  7779 75B0 2443 8B29 F6BE
http://moleculardevices.org         http://nanomachines.net
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 198 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20040207/94b4c354/attachment.bin>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list