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Curiosity Rover Being Upgraded With Autonomous Sensor Program 45

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the intelligent-agents-strike-back dept.
DevotedSkeptic writes "Curiosity will be getting a software upgrade called Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) which will allow it to take on the go photos to save precious time while exploring our red neighbor. Another interesting feature AGEIS may be able to provide is the ability for Curiosity to call home when it sees something interesting. It won't be a quick upgrade: AEGIS, which has been used on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity since 2009, will be installed on Curiosity in the next nine to 12 months, Estlin said in an interview with InformationWeek. The AEGIS software, developed by JPL, was named NASA's 'software of the year' in 2011. Opportunity uses the software to take a wide-angle image with a low-resolution camera, then picks out rocks in the image to see if there's something of interest. If so, it takes a high-resolution image using an on-board science camera that's capable of zooming in on the subject. The software has potential beyond picture taking. Its see-and-react code could be adapted to other instruments." There's a paper on the software as used in the Opportunity rover.
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Curiosity Rover Being Upgraded With Autonomous Sensor Program

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  • language (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @08:10AM (#41448049)

    increased science, what does that even mean?

  • by Comboman (895500) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @08:17AM (#41448087)

    It won't be a quick upgrade, AEGIS, which has been used on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity since 2009, will be installed on Curiosity in the next nine to 12 months

    Curiosity launched on November 26, 2011. If Opportunity has been using AEGIS since 2009, why couldn't it have been included in Curiosity from the start instead of this 12 month download over a slow connection? It's bad enough that video game companies push stuff out the door and then rely on release-day patches but I expect better from NASA.

  • Re:language (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... org minus author> on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @08:21AM (#41448117)

    Science is sort of like Vespene gas, found naturally on Mars but can only be gathered with certain equipment.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @09:31AM (#41448589) Homepage

    Curiosity launched on November 26, 2011. If Opportunity has been using AEGIS since 2009, why couldn't it have been included in Curiosity from the start instead of this 12 month download over a slow connection?

    Off the top of my head, I can think of two reasons. First, until it landed Curiosity's computer served as the flight control computer and didn't even have it's full surface/science package installed. That's what the big software upgrade right after landing was all about - to clear out the flight control package and replace it with the surface/science routines. Second, I suspect they want some operational experience (on Opportunity) with the new system and some experience (on Curiosity) with the basic surface/science software package and some idea of how the hardware performs before committing to a new system. Odds are that Curiosity's baseline was frozen in 2010, long before sufficient information existed to write (let alone trust) the new software.
     
    Such a slow rollout is pretty common outside of commercial (consumer) software - because the costs of getting it wrong are so high. Especially in the case of something like Curiosity, which is a huge o' dollars of irreplaceable hardware with a limited lifespan and one shot at getting the science data. This isn't Ice Jelly Gummy Doughnut Candy with the fanboi's whining and pissing and moaning because their perfectly good hardware doesn't have the latest bling and threatening to move to another computer/phone/toy. FWIW, the software for the system I worked on in the Navy typically spent six months to a year installed on a trainer, followed by another six months installed on one or two hulls before committing it to the entire Fleet.
     
    Also, the article notes that it will be installed in, not over, the next nine to twelve months. Given that they replaced nearly the entire software package right after landing, the bandwidth available is more than sufficient to the task. Even so, they'll likely make use of most of that bandwidth on the important tasks of getting the science down rather than the secondary task of installing non essential software upgrades.
     

    It's bad enough that video game companies push stuff out the door and then rely on release-day patches but I expect better from NASA.

    Everything is easy to those that don't have to do the work and aren't accountable for the results.

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