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Mars Rover Upgraded 132

MrShaggy writes "According to a BBC article, NASA is upgrading their MARS rovers. The upgrade will allow the rovers to sift through the pictures of dust-devils, decide which is the most appropriate, send it back. 'Clouds typically occur in 8-20% of the data collected right now,' Castano said. 'If we could look for a much more extended time and select only those images with clouds then we could increase our understanding of how and when these phenomena form. Similarly with the dust devils.' The article also discusses upgrades to the Mars Odyssey. They plan to make it self-reacting to events on the planet as they are happening."
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Mars Rover Upgraded

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  • Absolutely amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by datajack ( 17285 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:48AM (#15420407)
    I am constantly astounded at just how well built and designed the rover must have been. AFAIR, it was only intended to run for a couple of months, yet it has now clocked up a couple of years, and now they are upgrading it's software to make it perform even better - that entire team is doing a fantastic job, and easily deserve whatever the US equivalent of an OBE is.

    Tis a shame that Beagle2 didn't survive impact. I reckon that'd have done just as well, and the two teams would have mapped Mars and have the rovers playing a game of fotball with each other by now ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:52AM (#15420420)
    I have read on other Internet forums that they're also planning on switching from Ada to Java for the software on upcoming rovers. While Java was initially developed for such embedded environments, it isn't somewhere that we've seen it get a lot of use.

    If there is any truth to those statements I have read elsewhere, I have to be a bit worried. Ada is known to be a rock-solid language for developing mission-critical software. Even considering the Arianne-5 failure, it's still more reassuring to know that a software system is developed in Ada than Java.

    I also believe that Sun's implementation of Java does not allow for it to be used in mission-critical systems. If it is indeed true that a switch is being considered, they would likely have to write their own JVM, or at least use a non-Sun one. Would not that be something, if the space research futhers Java development!

    And it's the 'BBC', not the 'bbc'. Please, it's not difficult to hold the shift key while typing those three characters.

  • by chroma ( 33185 ) * <chroma.mindspring@com> on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:54AM (#15420428) Homepage
    The current generation of rovers have shown themselves to be reliable and very flexible. They've brought back a view of Mars that far surpasses anything we've seen before. It's really disappointing, therefore, that NASA is throwing away all of the knowledge used to make these missions a success. Delivery of a robot to Mars requires a successful launch, accurate navigation, and, of course, a good landing. To say nothing of the design of the rovers themselves. All of this must be carefully worked out in advance.

    But NASA has decided instead to throw away all of that and spend money to develop a new, bigger probe, the Mars Science Labratory []. It's a shame that the limited science money NASA gets isn't being spent in the most efficient way possible on stuff that we know to will give excellent scientific data, but instead is used for these kinds of big budget employment makers.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?