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Cloud Mars NASA Open Source Software Space Science

NASA Achieves Data Goals For Mars Rover With Open Source Software 35

Posted by Soulskill
from the open-curiosity dept.
caseyb89 writes "Open source projects Nginx, Railo CMS, and GlusterFS are powering Mars Curiosity's big data crunching. 'Taken together, the combination of cloud and open source enabled the Curiosity mission to provide beautiful images in real time, not months delayed; at high quality, not "good enough" quality. A traditional, proprietary approach would not have been this successful, given the short time to deployment and shifting requirements that necessitated the ultimate in agility and flexibility.'"
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NASA Achieves Data Goals For Mars Rover With Open Source Software

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  • by Animats (122034) on Monday October 22, 2012 @02:26PM (#41732253) Homepage

    This has nothing to do with processing the data from the rover (which comes in at rates a dial-up modem could handle). It's about the web hosting system that lets casual visitors look at the pretty pictures.

    NASA could just upload the stills to Flickr and the videos to Youtube and save some money.

    • by 0racle (667029) on Monday October 22, 2012 @02:43PM (#41732433)

      It's about the web hosting system that lets casual visitors look at the pretty pictures

      Functions which are important to the project.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Monday October 22, 2012 @03:17PM (#41732911)

      This has nothing to do with processing the data from the rover (which comes in at rates a dial-up modem could handle). It's about the web hosting system that lets casual visitors look at the pretty pictures.

      NASA could just upload the stills to Flickr and the videos to Youtube and save some money.

      That is not quite true. The images that are seen are actually a mosaic of many images. The individual images are served up as a composite on demand from the servers. It is unlikely that NASA would have the time and resources to convert all of them so they could be displayed on Flickr and Youtube.

      • How do they have the resources to do it on demand, multiple times, to serve it across the web... but not to do it once and upload them to Flickr?

    • NASA could just upload the stills to Flickr and the videos to Youtube and save some money.

      Great idea; I mean, what could possibly go wrong? [vice.com]

    • Yeah, but look at what's happened in the past when NASA has used an external hosting system and the bonkers automated copyright enforcement bots:

      The copyright bots have tagged the NASA streams+videos (and possibly the NASA stills also, though I don't recall hearing about that happening) as being the copyright infringers even though NASA was the original producer of the content, the Scripps news service (which copied the NASA stream) was able to initiate and conclude an automated takedown of the NASA strea

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 22, 2012 @02:30PM (#41732281)
    ...of precisely where open-source should be applied; NASA. I like to imagine such endeavors are not self-serving, but public, and for anyone with the will and ability, to either contribute, admire, or simply understand.
    • I agree. Any software designed or modified using public funds should be freely redistributed for any use by the public. No GPL, BSD.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday October 22, 2012 @02:47PM (#41732483)
    Ongoing intelligence reports from the blue world reveals that our programme of infiltration continues unnoticed.

    K'Breel, speaker for the Council, spake thus.

    "Integrating our semantic maps into the minds of the blueworlders has been a difficult task, but already their vocalization sequences have been reprogrammed to vocalize words unpronounceable in their language, but which are perfectly curlmenot in our fair tongue - words like like 'Nginx', 'Railocms', and 'Glusterfs.'"

    When an agile young developer, fresh from a tour of duty infiltrating the blueworlders' breeding factories, suggested that a traditional, proprietary approach would not have been this successful, given the short time to deployment and shifting requirements that necessitated the ultimate in agility and flexibility, K'Breel recognized that the threat was bidirectional. (To defend against the threat, the Speaker, being in a particularly mercurial framework of mind, had the developer 's nodes gimped: the silly git's gelsacs were thrown into a blender, and the extracted fluid was disposed of by means of a waterfall.)

  • by greenreaper (205818) on Monday October 22, 2012 @02:49PM (#41732511) Homepage Journal
    "EFF files injunction against NASA for AGPL violations in Mars Rover firmware"
  • Oh so that is why it's so cheap to do!

    Actually I wish they got more funding so they could do a lot more.
  • by devforhire (2658537) on Monday October 22, 2012 @03:11PM (#41732803)

    AWS seems like the real key to the success here, not the use of open source software. While I think it's great that NASA took the open source route, I've read nothing to defend the position that this would not have been successful with non-open source software:

    "A traditional, proprietary approach would not have been this successful, given the short time to deployment and shifting requirements that necessitated the ultimate in agility and flexibility."

    Even the article praises AWS more than the open source software mentioned, it's main source of content appears to come from the linked article [devopsangle.com] with information about the open source pieces of the stack added.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Monday October 22, 2012 @03:14PM (#41732841)

    What is even more amazing that the Curiosity Rover is that somehow Microsoft wasn't selected for a government project.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is NASA. You can get killed for choosing Microsoft (no, seriously)

      • by Anonymous Coward
        How do you think it came to be known as the Blue Screen of Death?
  • I believe that Railo is a scripting language, not a CMS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railo [wikipedia.org]
  • The irony in the article, is that the link for "high quality, not 'good enough' quality", leads to a page where the first image has around 20% of the data, missing/blacked out.

    First time I've seen a definition of "high quality" that means "20% data loss"

    • by Altanar (56809)

      First time I've seen a definition of "high quality" that means "20% data loss"

      The data isn't lost or blacked out. It's unprocessed. NASA releases images that are fully complete later on, and releases partial images immediately. Also, for an interplanetary mission to receive images as quickly as we are and even in various states of process is frankly amazing.

  • by dgharmon (2564621) on Monday October 22, 2012 @06:21PM (#41735081) Homepage
    "Nginx (pronounced engine-x) is a free, open source, high-performance HTTP server and reverse proxy .. Railo is an open source content management system (CMS) .. GlusterFS is an open source, distributed file system", link [opensource.com]
  • GlusterFS is the most interesting piece of software here. It features elastic distributed and replicated storage, with full POSIX semantics (including locks), and no single point of failure (SPOF). An interesting point: it is coded in C, without nasty external dependencies (I mean that is no java bloatware)

    This is very nice, but one question remains: that kind of software will give us cheap massive storage. How will be backup the data?

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