[svlug] NASA connections for lecture at a public middle school?

Christian Einfeldt einfeldt at gmail.com
Wed Nov 28 15:55:44 PST 2007


On Nov 28, 2007 3:36 PM, Kristian Erik Hermansen <
kristian.hermansen at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Nov 28, 2007 3:23 PM, Christian Einfeldt <einfeldt at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I am wondering if anyone here on the list has connections with NASA's
> > people?  I believe that most of them are down in Pasadena, but I thought
> > that maybe I could ask people on the list to help try to find a speaker
> from
> > NASA to come to our local public middle school to talk about the role of
> > FOSS at NASA, and particularly about the role of FOSS in guiding the
> Mars
> > Exploration Rovers (MERs).
> I almost worked for NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL) down at Caltech,
> but I think they run a lot of Solaris.

They might use Solaris or their on-going stuff, but if these article is
still accurate, they at least were using Linux for their MERs project



The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission marks a turning point for use of
Linux in the space program. Linux has been used on space missions before—a
Debian laptop rode the Space Shuttle on STS-83, for instance, as long ago as
1997. But the Mars Exploration Rover Project is the first JPL mission to use
Linux systems for critical mission operations. On MER, Linux is being used
for high-level science planning and for low-level command sequencing,
visualization and simulation.



While both Spirit and Opportunity have proven agile vehicles as they
maneuver around the bumpy, rocky terrain of Mars, Norris said the use of
open source software gave his team agility as it developed the rovers'

Norris said open source software is not necessarily onboard the Martian
rovers, but is instead here on Earth controlling them and communicating with
them. He explained that during development, NASA engineers were able to
focus on their mission rather than those components that were going to rely
on open source.

"It let us say, OK, we don't have to start development on this or that so we
reserved the investment for the things we had to do," Norris said. "We were
betting on open source tools to cover things, and it was easy for us to let
that capability go to open source."

*Mission critical required source*

Norris also praised the agility of the open source communities and
developers that rover engineers worked with in building Spirit and
Opportunity functionality.

The JPL engineer said that because the rovers' systems were all mission
critical -- a term that takes on more urgency when the hardware is being
sent to space with no return ticket -- the rover systems' designers demanded
access to all of the source code involved, including for some commercial
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