Electronic Design

Development Tools Help Rovers Get To Mars

Green Hills Software's latest project is truly out of this world. Spirit and Opportunity, NASA's newest Martian rovers, are equipped with software written by engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory using Green Hills Software development tools. Launched on June 10, Spirit will land on the Red Planet on January 3, 2004. Opportunity, sent up on July 7, will touch down on Mars on January 24, 2004.

"The two Mars rovers are essentially very sturdy, complex computers," said Green Hills Software vice president of engineering David Kleidermacher. "And like every computer, they need specific software programs to tell them how to perform all the complex functions of space flight, landing, and operation on the surface of Mars."

Of course, the mission presents some unique challenges. JPL's engineers used one set of Green Hills' development tools to rebuild the rovers' entire operating software. Before the rovers land, JPL engineers will use these tools again to build a new version of the operating software that will be uplinked to the spacecraft. This update will direct the rovers to precise landing targets on Mars and enable them to execute their scientific mission.

For more information, see www.ghs.com or www.jpl.nasa.gov.

See associated figure.

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