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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 Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @05:34PM (#46611589)

    Bullshit - or selective memory.

    Back in the days, you bought a bunch of floppies, installed the software, and then spent years putting up with a lot of annoying bugs that required buying the next version of the software if you wanted to get rid of them. If they had fixed them, maybe.

    Updating is great: if you have a slightly shitty piece of software, you stand a fair chance of getting corrections for free. The only annoying thing is when something that works great stops working great because the developer had a brainwave and decided to come up with Something Even Greater[tm] that turns out to suck. But then, you get that for free too, while before, again, you had to pay for the next version of the software to discover the sucky new feature that replaced the useful one.

  • by sosume ( 680416 ) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @06:23PM (#46611831) Journal

    The software obviously wasn't ready when the probe launched. They needed nine more years to develop it. Had they waited, the probe wouldn't be near the comet in time. So it's a rather smart decision.

  • 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.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead