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Space Science

ESA Seeks Software Innovators For Orbiting Laboratory 35

First time accepted submitter Dario Izzo writes "The European Space Agency is giving the opportunity to try innovative software algorithms on board of one of its planned orbiting platform. The core architecture includes processors of unprecedented power (for space platforms) and it is fully reconfigurable even down to the operating system and firmware levels. Peripherals include cameras, GPS and attitude control. The full technical specifications are available via the European Space Agency web pages."
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ESA Seeks Software Innovators For Orbiting Laboratory

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  • mememe (Score:5, Funny)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @03:03AM (#43168435)

    Hi. I'm a Chinese hacker, very bored with hacking your defense computers from the Great Chinese Hacker Sweatshop. Can I program your "orbiting platform", just for a little variety in my life?

    p.s. - Any weapon systems on it?

    • Can I program your "orbiting platform"

      you are obviously not a chinese hacker

    • by rooie ( 2666495 )
      No, you can't. You're not a resident of the EU, Switzerland or Norway. Read the questionnaire :-p.
      • by Halueth ( 776646 )
        So, if I'm a Chinese post-doc temporarily involved in a UNI in say...The Netherlands. Would that be okay?
        • by rooie ( 2666495 )
          I should learn how to read. Taken from the quesstionnaire: Experiment ideas will be considered acceptable by ESA if one of the following criteria is met: 1. The proposer is affiliated (e.g. post-doc or professor) to an academic institution i.e. university or research institute 2. At least one partner (academic or industrial) in the consortium is based in a country belonging to the EU, Switzerland or Norway 3. The proposer is affiliated to industry
  • can you imagine a space station stuck full of nerds for 6 months

    i would rather face off with ripley's alien

  • for cameras, GPS and attitude control?

    You could probably do that with a couple of Raspberry Pis...

    • Think stuff like image stitching, terrain depth calculations via stereoscopy, detecting growth areas via changes in night-light levels, etc.

      • Maybe one Pi then. It has a seriously potent GPU.
        • One Pi, yes. But IN SPACE!!!1!!

          On a more serious note, the radiation hardening and reliability required of a space platform limits the performance of pretty much any electronics on board. I wonder if we ever figure out optical-based computers if they will be better at EM/cosmic-particle rejection.

    • You don't need unprecedented power for the basics.

      Still, if you give unprecedented power to nerds, they always come up with something cooler than you ever thought possible. This is why they don't really make a huge list of demands... but instead just say: This is the hardware. Make us something nice.

      The goal is not to just take a couple of pictures of the planet. The goal is to develop technology.

    • by dragisha ( 788 )

      As other posters said: for one, algorithms involved can grow very big and very demanding, very fast. That is why they are enlisting external help - to devise new things to do with their sensor data.

      Also, more complex algorithms possible will give more quality results, with less bandwidth (to transfer raw data to Earth for calculations) spent. There is no way all sensor data can be streamed downside, for any reasonable set of sensors installed.

      But, this is European project (as per TFA). Plus half of EFTA (Sw

      • But, this is European project (as per TFA). Plus half of EFTA (Switzerland and Norway). So, nothing of direct interest for 90+% of people on Earth/here.

        Really ? If that statement holds, then a US-funded, US-initiated, US-executed Curiosity is nothing of direct interest for 90+% of people on Earth ( as the US currently only count 4,46 % of the world's population, and the EU + NO + CH close to 8% of the same BTW ).

      • Even if I can't apply to submit code or algorithms for this particular case/scenario, the situation itself is very interesting to me. It makes me wonder and question what the point of doing the algorithms in space / microgravity would be... I guess one answer, as you said about transferring raw data to earth, would be better context-sensitive compression algorithms, or perhaps better "context-detecting filter algorithms" that can reject most uninteresting data (or log it onto magnetic media for later anal
  • In this context, "innovative = "brand new" = "full of bugs". Should be entertaining.
    • I think that they just try to overcome the "lock in" situation they are in right now. It goes something like this: We cannot change the software because we have been using the same software all the time. Changing it would mean we get loads of bugs and problems and drama. Also, you could just read TFA, 2nd paragraph.

      It means you end up building system after system on an ancient foundation. And now they want to overcome this issue cheaply by giving all nerds of the European Union the option to build something

      • I'm not saying that it's a bad idea. Refactoring can be the only way out of lock-in. On the other hand, the software they are talking about is described in TFA as "critical spacecraft control software". They haven't rewritten it because (a) it works, so they don't need to (b) you don't rewrite that unless you absolutely have reasons to do so that are so compelling that they outweigh the risk of major bugs.

        What has changed for ESA is the advent of cubesats, a device so cheap that the consequences of losin
        • Exactly. I just thought that your first post was sarcastic. Reading your 2nd post, I see that I was mistaken. It should indeed be entertaining and informative.

          ESA might even mod the project with new software on a cubesat as "insightful" when it's all done.

    • In this context, "innovative = "brand new" = "full of bugs". Should be entertaining.

      "attitude control" seems new and innovative, should be interesting at least

  • Is crashing the platform into a rival city's hockey arena considered innovation? Just asking...
  • Too bad more /.ers are not posting on these interesting software based articles. Most of the posting seems to be occurring on the trolling articles about religion, or sexism, or inappropriate remarks, or mean bosses, or real trolls about creationism and their fake prizes baiting people into arguing on the troll's terms... I'm trying not to engage those topics by even posting on those articles.
    This topic, however, is interesting. What could you do with something like this? It would be more fun if it

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin