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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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scaine 4 days ago
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I was reading about Ingenuity's flight time recently. It's a trial flight only and expected to last only 90 seconds before crashing back to the planet surface.

From the solar panels, I kind of naively assumed that it was intended to stay airborne... forever! Perhaps docking back with Perseverance in the event of a storm, before buzzing back into the skies to provide aerial support for Perseverance's next foray around the crater.

Nope. 90 seconds, a bunch of data collected, crashing far, far away from Perseverance where it has no risk of damaging the main star of the show!!

Still an amazing accomplishment if they get it airborne though, given the atmosphere - the helicopter blades need to spin insanely fast in order to generate any lift! If it gets 10 seconds of airtime, I imagine the engineers will be delighted!
mirv 4 days ago
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Quoting: scaineI was reading about Ingenuity's flight time recently. It's a trial flight only and expected to last only 90 seconds before crashing back to the planet surface.

From the solar panels, I kind of naively assumed that it was intended to stay airborne... forever! Perhaps docking back with Perseverance in the event of a storm, before buzzing back into the skies to provide aerial support for Perseverance's next foray around the crater.

Nope. 90 seconds, a bunch of data collected, crashing far, far away from Perseverance where it has no risk of damaging the main star of the show!!

Still an amazing accomplishment if they get it airborne though, given the atmosphere - the helicopter blades need to spin insanely fast in order to generate any lift! If it gets 10 seconds of airtime, I imagine the engineers will be delighted!

That's a little different to what they said on the livestream (5 flights planned in total). Starved for interesting news like this, must find more!


Last edited by mirv on 22 February 2021 at 12:13 pm UTC
ageres 4 days ago
OS market share for Linux is 100% now on Mars.
LordDaveTheKind 4 days ago
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I couldn't like this piece of news enough
Nanobang 4 days ago
The t-shirt:

Linux:
Good enough for Mars,
Good enough for me
!

scaine 4 days ago
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Quoting: mirv
Quoting: scaineI was reading about Ingenuity's flight time recently. It's a trial flight only and expected to last only 90 seconds before crashing back to the planet surface.

From the solar panels, I kind of naively assumed that it was intended to stay airborne... forever! Perhaps docking back with Perseverance in the event of a storm, before buzzing back into the skies to provide aerial support for Perseverance's next foray around the crater.

Nope. 90 seconds, a bunch of data collected, crashing far, far away from Perseverance where it has no risk of damaging the main star of the show!!

Still an amazing accomplishment if they get it airborne though, given the atmosphere - the helicopter blades need to spin insanely fast in order to generate any lift! If it gets 10 seconds of airtime, I imagine the engineers will be delighted!

That's a little different to what they said on the livestream (5 flights planned in total). Starved for interesting news like this, must find more!

Interesting! The Wikipedia article alludes to multiple flights too - each of which may last up to 90 seconds. Huh. I got my info from a Discovery Channel thing that was running a couple of nights ago. Fingers crossed it lands safely enough to recharge and take off again. God, it'll only take one high-wind landing to potentially scupper it!
Liam Dawe 4 days ago
Quoting: NanobangThe t-shirt:

Linux:
Good enough for Mars,
Good enough for me
!

Stealing this.
dubigrasu 4 days ago
I watched the event live, as it was streamed from Nasa. With the exception of laptops (which were running mostly windows), on their main monitors in the control room they were running some kind of "nix" OS. Can't say what exactly it was, but I think I recognized an older version of Gnome running on.
I'm curious what was that.
Kithop 3 days ago
On the whole 'oh, it's an old PowerPC 750 on Perserverance', yes.

It's an extremely radiation hardened, military grade PPC750 (aka what Apple would call a 'G3'), and it's the same as previous Mars rovers and a number of I believe orbiters, other missions, etc.

Reliability in deep space is a huge concern, radiation is a huge deal (remember the 'cosmic ray bit flips'?), and it's a now heavily tested platform. I can't fault them for going with what they know has a well proven track record and reusing previous rover tech. Same reason it's VxWorks instead of Linux.

But yeah, it's not as dense as a modern (ish) Snapdragon 801 ARM SoC from 2014, and for a specific experiment where the performance/watt...per gram is a make-or-break, and even its potential for failure doesn't affect the main rover, it makes sense.

VxWorks isn't available for the Snapdragon 801, apparently, hence Linux, and here we are.
PublicNuisance 3 days ago
Did they find any three breasted prostitutes yet ? Curious minds got to know.
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