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Photos from Curiosity on Mars  (Source: NASA)
Curiosity will endure a four-day R10 software upgrade, which will allow it to drive through Martian terrain and use its instruments to check its surroundings

NASA Mars rover Curiosity is receiving a four-day software upgrade before it starts its two-year expedition across Martian terrain. 
 
Curiosity is a $2.5 billion one-ton, six-wheeled, car-sized Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) that landed on the Red Planet last week after launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida on November 26, 2011. The Mars rover traveled through space for just over eight months before finally touching down on the planet's surface. 
 
Now that Curiosity has finally landed, its time to upgrade the software for the next phase of its journey. Curiosity was previously programmed for the flight/landing phase of the mission, but now, its time to move on to the exploration stage.
 
Curiosity will endure a four-day R10 software upgrade, which will allow it to drive through Martian terrain and use its instruments to check its surroundings. The Mars rover packs a single-board RAD 750 system with PowerPC 750 clocked at 200 MHz. It also has 256 MB of DRAM and 2 GB of flash storage. 
 
Why is it taking four days for the update? According to NASA engineers, they just want to be thorough and make sure nothing goes wrong
 
The first day will be a "soft install" of the R10 software, while the second day will be a full installation and the third day will be a full installation to Curiosity's backup computer. The fourth day will likely be testing and prep. 
 
After the software upgrades and testing, Curiosity will use tools like a large robot arm, weather station, percussive drill, a laser and 4.8kg of plutonium-238 to explore the Red Planet. 

Source: PC Mag



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RE: Why not bring it all with you?
By m51 on 8/13/2012 5:50:02 PM , Rating: 3
There really was not enough storage.

These are radiation hardened computers. One of the things that means is the transistors are much larger than current computer processors like Intel's Ivy Bridge. 50-150 times larger. The RAD750 processors that Curiosity uses have only 1/300th the number of transistors as a typical desktop pc processor. Same goes with the memory used.
The maximum Flight Software Image size is only 32 MB. An Ipad has 32 times as much program memory (RAM).

The processor is a radiation hardened version of the PowerPC 750 that was used in the G3 Macintosh which were first release in 1997.

The same computers that are used to control the Rover are also used during the cruise phase on the way to Mars and also to control everything for the Entry, Descent, and Landing phase.

There was not enough space to include everything in one FSW image so now that the cruise and EDL portions are no longer needed they can be deleted giving enough space for the Semi-autonomous ground navigation software and the robotic arm science functions, among other things.

There are two redundant computer systems on Curiosity, they are taking 4 days to do the switch over, 2 days for each computer and checking and testing everything thoroughly as they go so they don't mess anything up. Union rules preclude any service visits to Mars.

Science operations should be back on by Tuesday.


RE: Why not bring it all with you?
By m51 on 8/13/2012 5:54:08 PM , Rating: 2
BTW the RAD750s on the MSL run at 133 Mhz, not the 200 Mhz so often quoted.


RE: Why not bring it all with you?
By KingConker on 8/13/2012 6:35:27 PM , Rating: 2
With that kind of state-of-art technology and it's blistering top speeed of 4cm/s - I really hope it does not encounter any type of intelligent form of life.

Our species will then be re-classified at dunce level, ripe for invasion or assimilation.

That's if ASIMO hasn't already taken control... which let's face it is inevitable.


By KingConker on 8/13/2012 6:36:08 PM , Rating: 2
The three e's in 'speed' was intentional :)


RE: Why not bring it all with you?
By boobo on 8/14/2012 12:13:56 AM , Rating: 3
So martian colonists will not be able to play the latest games. :(


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