NASA’s Curiosity Software Update Makes Patch Tuesday Seem Like a Breeze

Patching and updating methods is one of the core tasks of an IT experienced, but that task typically proves challenging dependent on the range of gadgets and programs that will need to be patched in the business.

Even so, those methods are typically positioned on Earth. Imagine trying to patch a procedure on an entirely distinct earth.

That’s evidently what NASA just did, sending a important software program update extra than 150 million miles absent to the Curiosity rover made to allow the wheeled robotic to generate quicker and reduce put on and tear on its wheels that it has endured for above a ten years.

In addition, NASA manufactured about 180 other alterations in the update, which required Curiosity to essentially be shut down concerning April 3 and April 7, the place agency states in a push launch. This is the equivalent of upgrading a Windows 10 gadget to Home windows 11, albeit from a unique planet.

While Microsoft, Google and other tech giants devote a sizeable total of time getting ready updates and rolling them out, NASA took 9 many years to build and mail out this update to Curiosity, with the final update going back to 2016.

Other adjustments include earning corrections to the messages the rover despatched back again to Earth and simplifications to pc code that had been altered by previous patches.

Software package update to assistance navigate Mars terrain

In accordance to NASA, Curiosity can now do much more of what it calls “thinking whilst driving” – carrying out in a far more superior way to navigate close to rocks and sand traps. This is one thing that NASA’s most recent Mars rover, Perseverance, does to help navigate the Mars terrain. Perseverance continually snaps photos of the terrain ahead, processing them with a dedicated laptop so it can autonomously navigate for the duration of a person continual drive.

On the other hand, Curiosity isn’t geared up with a committed pc for that reason, in its place driving in segments and stopping to approach imagery of the terrain just after each individual phase. That results in a lot of stops and begins more than the training course of a prolonged generate.

The update will support Curiosity procedure photographs more quickly and commit far more time on the move, according to NASA.

A new algorithm to shield Curiosity’s wheels

To minimize the dress in and tear on the rover’s aluminum wheels which have been exhibiting signals of broke treads considering that 2013, NASA integrated in the update a new algorithm built to improve traction and decrease wheel put on by altering the rover’s velocity depending on the rocks it’s rolling in excess of.

The update also consists of two new mobility commands that cut down the total of steering the rove requirements to do although driving in an arc toward a particular waypoint, supporting to even more maintain the daily life of the wheels.

The software program update will also aid the human controllers on Earth prepare the rover’s actions and will make upcoming software updates a lot easier to deploy, in accordance to NASA.

IT admins pushing out a main patch or update may perhaps cross their fingers, but doing so across 150 million miles of space is a bit a lot more nerve-wracking, states Jonathan Denison, the rover’s engineering functions workforce main, in a assertion.

“The strategy of hitting the install button was a minor terrifying,” Denison states. “Despite all our tests, we under no circumstances know just what will come about right until the software package is up there.”