NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover gets a major software upgrade

NASA's Curiosity mars rover gets a major software upgrade
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover will drive speedier and reduce wear on its wheels thanks to two of the new abilities included with a main computer software update that was concluded on April 7. Noticed in this article is the rover’s perspective of a hill nicknamed “Bolívar,” with Gale Crater’s extensive ground in the upper correct. Credit history: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The update brings loads of improvements, the most important staying new driving capabilities.

Several years in the earning, a main software package update that has been set up on NASA’s Curiosity rover will empower the Mars robotic to travel more rapidly and minimize wear and tear on its wheels. All those are just two of about 180 changes applied in the course of the update, which essential the team to put Curiosity’s science and imaging functions on maintain in between April 3 and April 7.

“The flight software is crucial to our mission, so this is a big offer for our team,” reported Curiosity Challenge Supervisor Kathya Zamora-Garcia of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “This is a main computer software update, and we experienced to make absolutely sure we did it appropriate.”

Planning for this update goes again to 2016, when Curiosity previous gained a software overhaul. Some alterations this time all-around are as smaller as earning corrections to the messages the rover sends back again to mission controllers on Earth. Others simplify computer code that has been altered by a number of patches since Curiosity touched down in 2012. The major adjustments will help hold Curiosity rolling far more competently for a long time to come.

The rover can now do extra of what the crew phone calls “wondering though driving”—something NASA’s most recent Mars rover, Perseverance, can carry out in a far more innovative way to navigate around rocks and sand traps. When Perseverance drives, it continuously snaps pics of the terrain forward, processing them with a committed pc so it can autonomously navigate all through one continuous travel.

Curiosity won’t have a focused computer system for this goal. As an alternative, it drives in segments, halting to method imagery of the terrain after every single section. That indicates it requirements to start off and stop frequently around the training course of a extensive travel. The new program will help the venerable rover approach photographs more quickly, allowing for it to shell out far more time on the shift.

“This will not likely let Curiosity push as quickly as Perseverance, but instead of stopping for a complete minute just after a push section, we’re halting for just a second or two,” reported Jonathan Denison of JPL, Curiosity’s engineering operations workforce chief. “Paying much less time idling concerning travel segments also indicates we use fewer power just about every working day. And even although we’re practically 11 a long time outdated, we are still applying new suggestions to use much more of our available energy for science things to do.”

Wheel have on

The team also wishes to keep the health and fitness of Curiosity’s aluminum wheels, which commenced exhibiting symptoms of broken treads in 2013. When engineers recognized that sharp rocks had been chipping away at the treads, they came up with an algorithm to boost traction and reduce wheel use by adjusting the rover’s velocity depending on the rocks it truly is rolling around.

The new software package goes even further by introducing two new mobility commands that lower the total of steering Curiosity needs to do while driving in an arc towards a particular waypoint. With fewer steering necessary, the crew can reach the generate focus on faster and lessen the don that inherently arrives with steering.

“That capability was truly dreamed up through the Spirit and Opportunity times,” Denison mentioned. “It was a ‘nice to have’ they resolved not to put into action.”

In general, the new program will streamline the job of Curiosity’s human drivers, who have to write complicated ideas made up of hundreds of commands. The software package update will also empower them to upload software package patches far more quickly than in previous. And it will assist engineers approach the motions of Curiosity’s robotic arm a lot more proficiently and place its “head” atop the mast much more accurately.

As with any big program update, there is a sense of reduction to see it functioning as made, Denison claimed.

“The thought of hitting the install button was a little scary,” he included. “Regardless of all our screening, we in no way know particularly what will come about until eventually the software program is up there.”

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover will get a big computer software up grade (2023, April 13)
retrieved 18 April 2023

This document is topic to copyright. Apart from any good dealing for the reason of personal study or investigate, no
part may well be reproduced with out the written permission. The content material is supplied for facts uses only.