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Space Software

Software Upgrade At 655 Million Kilometers 57

An anonymous reader writes "The Rosetta probe was launched in 2004 with a mission that required incredible planning and precision: land on a comet. After a decade in space, the probe woke from hibernation in January. Now, Rosetta has spotted its target. 'Rosetta is currently around 5 million kilometers from the comet, and at this distance it is still too far away to resolve – its light is seen in less than a pixel and required a series of 60–300 second exposures taken with the wide-angle and narrow-angle camera. The data then traveled 37 minutes through space to reach Earth, with the download taking about an hour per image.' Now it's time to upgrade the probe's software. Since it's currently 655,000,000 kilometers from Earth, the operation needs to be flawless. 'When MIDAS is first powered up, it boots into "kernel mode" – the kernel manages a very robust set of basic operations for communicating with the spacecraft and the ground and for managing the more complex main program. From kernel mode we can upload patches to the main software, verify the current contents, or even load an entirely new version.' The Rosetta blog is continually being updated with progress on the mission, and the Planetary Society has more information as well. The probe will arrive at the comet in August, and will attempt landing in November."
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Software Upgrade At 655 Million Kilometers

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  • by Connie_Lingus ( 317691 ) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @05:23PM (#46611549) Homepage

    is to load TWRP so the can finally root the damn thing.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @05:29PM (#46611573)

    Since it's currently 655,000,000 kilometers from Earth, the operation needs to be flawless

    Well, *that* is the real reason why they taught all those students to program on punch cards and have their batch jobs run on Saturday nights with cheap CPU time. It was to prepare those students to program spacecrafts far, far away...

  • 'nuff said, now that your DICE got limp and your TACO dropped.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @05:46PM (#46611633)

    . . . otherwise, the probe will be filled with a bunch of unwanted McAfee bloatware!

  • Compared to updating a desktop Windows box while some clueless biddy is clicking away on your installer at random ("Yes! I definitely want the Cryptolocker browser toolbar" "It hasn't done anything for five minutes! Should I unplug it and call great-grandson Justin on his text thingie?" "Yes, let's have Windows Live control my Hotmail").

  • by Razed By TV ( 730353 ) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @07:37PM (#46612181)
    to publicly state that "We have to flawlessly update this thing from 655km away" until after I already updated it.
  • This type of failure to employ basic SI prefixes really gets my goat! The metre is an SI unit so multiples should use the correct SI prefix. 1000 kilometres is a megametre and 1000 megametres (or 1 000 000 kilometres) is a gigametre. So the above stated distance of 655,000,000 kilometers from Earth should have been specified as 655 gigametres (or 655 Gm).

    I know nothing of these "software upgrades" of which they speak.
    • I'd be paranoid too; if anything goes wrong, they'll have turned the Rosetta into a stone.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Good luck with your battles there, Chief. It's time well spent.
  • by smaddox ( 928261 ) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @12:32AM (#46613169)


  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @05:10AM (#46613811)
    Viking 1 [] (first lander on Mars) was killed by a software update.

    The lander operated for 2245 sols (about 2306 Earth days or 6 years) until November 11, 1982 (sol 2600), when a faulty command sent by ground control resulted in loss of contact. The command was intended to uplink new battery charging software to improve the lander's deteriorating battery capacity, but it inadvertently overwrote data used by the antenna pointing software.

  • Just to be sure, don't forget to check your statement terminators (such as a semi-colon). Getting one of those wrong sent a previous probe into the sun... :-(
  • Years later they retrieve the machine, hook up a KVM. What they see is - Suspected corrupted filesystem. FSCK, Please type in root's password to proceed.

    The 'Doh! could be heard across the country.

  • The end of Windows XP support has far-reaching effects.

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27