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Linux lands on Mars with Perseverance and Ingenuity

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Here is your morning dose of miscellaneous Linux news. Not gaming but still very cool - Linux has officially landed on Mars with the Perseverance Rover. Before we've been able to hit that mythical year of the Linux desktop, heck before Wayland has even been able to replace X11 on Linux desktops, we have now managed to blast Linux to another planet far away.

If you're not even the slightest space nerd like me you might be a bit confused, NASA just recently landed the Perseverance Rover on the red planet. That's cool by itself but Perseverance came with a rather fancy little Helicopter named Ingenuity, which according to NASA is "the first aircraft humanity has sent to another planet to attempt powered, controlled flight".

Image Credit - Nasa

As it turns out, it's powered by your friendly neighbourhood penguin — Linux! In an interview with IEEE Spectrum, Timothy Canham who is a Embedded Flight Software Engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, mentioned:

This the first time we’ll be flying Linux on Mars. We’re actually running on a Linux operating system. The software framework that we’re using is one that we developed at JPL for cubesats and instruments, and we open-sourced it a few years ago. So, you can get the software framework that’s flying on the Mars helicopter, and use it on your own project. It’s kind of an open-source victory, because we’re flying an open-source operating system and an open-source flight software framework and flying commercial parts that you can buy off the shelf if you wanted to do this yourself someday.

So how long will it be before there's a new game about flying a little helicopter on Mars?

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Misc
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28 comments
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natis1 22 Feb
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QuoteIt’s kind of an open-source victory, because we’re flying an open-source operating system and an open-source flight software framework and flying commercial parts that you can buy off the shelf

This is weirdly inspiring in a way. I worked a bit on building robots in college and it’s nice to know the only thing stopping them from being as cool as the stuff nasa builds is my severe lack of intelligence and not some secret technology.
Eike 22 Feb
There's no real question Linux already is dominating the world, from the smallest to the largest, from most people's pockets to even Mars.

Except one little village called desktop.
sudoer 22 Feb
Very cool indeed!
Arehandoro 22 Feb
Quoting: EikeThere's no real question Linux already is dominating the world, from the smallest to the largest, from most people's pockets to even Mars.

Except one little village called desktop.

Technically, not the world but our Solar Systtem :D

Honest question: Has there ever been any mention on what kind of OS any of the other probes* had? I assume it was some bespoke system? Or maybe a Unix system? Maybe Windows even? xD

* Not only probes but also the Rover for example.
jordicoma 22 Feb
Have you seen the spects. Are ancient for a cpu in 2021.
Powerpc 750@200mhz
256MB/ram
256eeprom
2GB flash
https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/rover/brains/
Well... The last linux can run on a n64, I can understand that it can run on a slowed down gamecube.
mirv 22 Feb
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I would assume that it's a Linux kernel based OS. The wording used says Linux quite a lot, but that's just the kernel. The full OS won't be anything resembling the OS run on a desktop, server, etc. It's not like they just install Debian from a repo and send that to Mars.

Yocto maybe? Or maybe the bare minimum bolted onto the kernel (or parts of it) directly. It's not like there needs to be userspace for the thing, and it won't be running generic programs - everything is dedicated for that specific hardware, and for very specific tasks.

Some technical details missing, sadly, as I would've really like to know why they chose Linux (maybe the processor they needed isn't supported by VxWorks), how they've dealt with probable lack of radiation hardening on it, what kind of resource constraints they're run up against in general, etc. And in a moment I might try find their coding guidelines for C++.
mirv 22 Feb
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Quoting: jordicomaHave you seen the spects. Are ancient for a cpu in 2021.
Powerpc 750@200mhz
256MB/ram
256eeprom
2GB flash
https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/rover/brains/
Well... The last linux can run on a n64, I can understand that it can run on a slowed down gamecube.

That's for Perseverance, I think Ingenuity uses something else. Specifically a Snapdragon 801, which has Krait CPU cores (i.e arm). Not sure about the rest of the specs.
jordicoma 22 Feb
Quoting: mirv
Quoting: jordicomaHave you seen the spects. Are ancient for a cpu in 2021.
Powerpc 750@200mhz
256MB/ram
256eeprom
2GB flash
https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/rover/brains/
Well... The last linux can run on a n64, I can understand that it can run on a slowed down gamecube.

That's for Perseverance, I think Ingenuity uses something else. Specifically a Snapdragon 801, which has Krait CPU cores (i.e arm). Not sure about the rest of the specs.
True. https://www.zdnet.com/article/to-infinity-and-beyond-linux-and-open-source-goes-to-mars/ But it seems even slower? (Sure it's an error).
"the helicopter's processor board is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 running at 500 Hz, not MegaHertz, Hertz."
The_Aquabat 22 Feb
Quoting: jordicomaHave you seen the spects. Are ancient for a cpu in 2021.
Powerpc 750@200mhz
256MB/ram
256eeprom
2GB flash
https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/rover/brains/
Well... The last linux can run on a n64, I can understand that it can run on a slowed down gamecube.
well how much is the temperature in Mars? I bet it's far different from the standard powerpc cpu u can grab from a shop shelf.
mirv 22 Feb
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Quoting: jordicoma
Quoting: mirv
Quoting: jordicomaHave you seen the spects. Are ancient for a cpu in 2021.
Powerpc 750@200mhz
256MB/ram
256eeprom
2GB flash
https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/rover/brains/
Well... The last linux can run on a n64, I can understand that it can run on a slowed down gamecube.

That's for Perseverance, I think Ingenuity uses something else. Specifically a Snapdragon 801, which has Krait CPU cores (i.e arm). Not sure about the rest of the specs.
True. https://www.zdnet.com/article/to-infinity-and-beyond-linux-and-open-source-goes-to-mars/ But it seems even slower? (Sure it's an error).
"the helicopter's processor board is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 running at 500 Hz, not MegaHertz, Hertz."

Guidance loops run at 500Hz (according to the IEEE interview). Processor itself would have a much higher clock rate of course.
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