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Mars Rover Controlled By Java

Java, the software developed by Sun Microsystems in the mid-1990s as a
universal operating system for Internet applications, gave NASA a low-cost
and easy-to-use option for running Spirit, the robotic rover that rolled
onto the planet's surface on Thursday in search of signs of water and life.

http://news.com.com/2100-1007_3-5142...l?tag=nefd_top

l8r, Mike N. Christoff

Jul 17 '05
198 18454
On Mon, 26 Jan 2004 19:11:34 -0800, David C DiNucci wrote:
"[Mission manager Jennifer] Trosper said the problem appeared to be that
the rover's flash memory couldn't handle the number of files it was
storing. ...


It seems the Spirit is willing, but the flash is weak...
--
Dave Seaman
Judge Yohn's mistakes revealed in Mumia Abu-Jamal ruling.
<http://www.commoncoura gepress.com/index.cfm?actio n=book&bookid=2 28>
Jul 17 '05 #161

"Uncle Al" <Un******@hate. spam.net> wrote in message
news:40******** *******@hate.sp am.net...
"Jan C. Vorbrüggen" wrote:
NASA is renowned for its antenna failures - the Hubble space
telescope,


HST didn't and doesn't have antenna problems.


It sure as Hell did. When they got it up there NASA discovered that
the high gain antenna feed cable intersected space swept out by the
high gain antenna. The technical term for this is "pookie pookie."
Ulysses at Jupiter


That one is going 'round the sun, and has had no problems of the sort.


The Jupiter orbiter could never deploy its high gain antenna. While
NASA spurted all over the Media for years, data was being received at
a rate recalling Radio Shack computers and their modems. Only a very
small fraction of the collected data was ever relayed. What a
successful mission.
and now their little radio-controlled go-cart on Mars.


...which isn't having an antenna problem, either.


No. It turns out $240 million won't custom-build a NASA FlashRAM card
as good as one can purchase at Radio Shack.


Actually, it apparently was not the flash ram, but the particular software
that accessed the flash ram. Thats why they think they can fix it by
sending a software patch.

l8r, Mike N. Christoff

Jul 17 '05 #162
No. It turns out $240 million won't custom-build a NASA FlashRAM card
as good as one can purchase at Radio Shack.


Actually, it apparently was not the flash ram, but the particular software
that accessed the flash ram. Thats why they think they can fix it by
sending a software patch.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/01/26/mars.rovers/

I stand corrected.

l8r, Mike N. Christoff

Jul 17 '05 #163
Robert C. Martin wrote:
NASA has had it's up's and downs. That's understandable. They are
doing things that nobody has ever done before.


I don't agree. NASA does things that nobody has ever done before, but most
time it fails, it fails because it does things that a lot of people have
done before, just differently. My impression is that NASA has a big NIH
problem. They had it back before Gemini, because they didn't use their
German rocket experts, and their own rockets blew up again and again, until
the Sputnik shock forced them to rethink a bit. On the other hand, Russian
rocket science is dead conservative industrial production. They still use
slightly modified V2 aggregates in their rockets - lots of them, making
failures unlikely, and since they are "mass products" (several thousands a
year), they are cheap.

When NASA says their flash file system is having problems, I'd like to bang
my head against a wall. Why didn't they use a off-the-shelf flash file
system that's known to work? For all NASA engineers: My footer has an
obligation: "If you do it yourself, you better do it right!".

--
Bernd Paysan
"If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself"
http://www.jwdt.com/~paysan/
Jul 17 '05 #164
On Tue, 27 Jan 2004 04:41:14 -0500, "Michael N. Christoff"
<mc********@sym patico.caREMOVE THIS> wrote:
> No. It turns out $240 million won't custom-build a NASA FlashRAM card
> as good as one can purchase at Radio Shack.


Actually, it apparently was not the flash ram, but the particular software
that accessed the flash ram. Thats why they think they can fix it by
sending a software patch.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/01/26/mars.rovers/

I stand corrected.

Don't give up so easily ;-) From the article you reference:
"Trosper said the problem appeared to be that the rover's flash memory
couldn't handle the number of files it was storing."

That sounds like a (possibly) software or (more probably) design and
specification problem, not hardware.

In any case, I'm interested to discover that Radio Shack FlashRAM
cards are far superior. I wonder how the OP determined that?

--
Al Balmer
Balmer Consulting
re************* ***********@att .net
Jul 17 '05 #165
David C DiNucci wrote:
[snip] "[Mission manager Jennifer] Trosper said the problem appeared to be that
the rover's flash memory couldn't handle the number of files it was
storing. ... She pointed out that the scientists had thoroughly tested
the rover's systems on Earth, but that the longest trial for the file
system was nine days, half of the 18 days Spirit operated before running
into the problem."

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/01/26/mars.rovers/

"Thoroughly tested"? If you're going to send any object, and especially
an object with a computer and software, to a distant planet where it is
supposed to survive for about 90 days, wouldn't it seem prudent to run
at least a 90 day test of the object on earth before liftoff?


HERETIC!

Any child of BillGates' Windoze knows that

1) Memory is unlimited, and
2) You *want* crud files to massively accumulate without any
callable mechanism for erasure. When the partition mysteriously blows
out, the ignorant consumer is screwed into reinstalling a purchased
update. Check out th size of your Windoze *.log files. What do they
do?

Uncle Al partitions a 3 Gbyte C: drive to hold *only* Windoze. It can
be rewritten without sacrificing the rest of the hard drive. It is a
contained garbage dump that can be manually purged. Run ZTREE and get
control of goddamned Windoze file and subdirectry obscenities,

http://www.ztree.com/
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/zt.zip
For a nice screen configuration file. You can flip ZTREE underneath
your idiot Desktop by hitting the Windoze key then Esc.

Uncle Al's box came from Gateway (cheap) with Windoze98. Uncle Al
spent months deleting files. The 12,000 original files are now down
to 7200. When things are slow... out go another few dozen. Do you
think this is funny? Look for all *.png files in your Windoze
partition. Does that voluminous pile of crap do anything? No, it
does not. Purge the image files, get back a few MB of hard drive.
(But who cares about a few MB? Memory si unlimited...)

Back to the mission... FlashRAM degrades with use. Each cell is good
for maybe a half-million cycles in commercial chips. Did NASA custom
fabricate its own NASA-crappy FlashRAM instead of visiting Radio
Shack? Did they save 20 grams by putting in half as much memory as
they really needed?

There are no hard drives on Mars! With ambient air pressure being
only 7 torr, there isn't nearly enough air pressure to levitate the
read/write heads when the hard drive spins up. If you seal the hard
drive, it overheats.

--
Uncle Al
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz.pdf
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/eotvos.htm
(Do something naughty to physics)
Jul 17 '05 #166
On Tue, 27 Jan 2004 09:52:57 -0800, Uncle Al <Un******@hate. spam.net>
wrote:
There are no hard drives on Mars! With ambient air pressure being
only 7 torr, there isn't nearly enough air pressure to levitate the
read/write heads when the hard drive spins up. If you seal the hard
drive, it overheats.


But (some) hard drives are indeed sealed. E.g.
http://www.wmrc.com/businessbriefing...gy/mountop.pdf
--
Al Balmer
Balmer Consulting
re************* ***********@att .net
Jul 17 '05 #167
Bernd Paysan <be**********@g mx.de> wrote in message news:<rg******* *****@miriam.mi kron.de>...

<snip>
When NASA says their flash file system is having problems, I'd like to bang
my head against a wall. Why didn't they use a off-the-shelf flash file
system that's known to work? For all NASA engineers: My footer has an
obligation: "If you do it yourself, you better do it right!".


As I understand, the Rover uses VxWorks, which is one of the more
popular off-the-shelf RT OSs. VxWorks supports a flash filesystem,
and I'd guess NASA would use it (although they could have written
their own).

In any case VxWorks, is not bug-free. It contains bugs that you'd be
very suprised at. But as it is a niche OS, bugs that might be
considered unacceptable in a general purpose OS are viewed
as funny quirks.

It is very possible that its flash file system sucks up large amounts of
RAM where there are many files, and this might not be considered a
problem as it might be uncommon for RT apps. Perhaps the most common
usage of flash memory is executable images and configuration files.

Thanks for reading,
Jatian
Jul 17 '05 #168
Alan Balmer wrote:

On Tue, 27 Jan 2004 09:52:57 -0800, Uncle Al <Un******@hate. spam.net>
wrote:
There are no hard drives on Mars! With ambient air pressure being
only 7 torr, there isn't nearly enough air pressure to levitate the
read/write heads when the hard drive spins up. If you seal the hard
drive, it overheats.


But (some) hard drives are indeed sealed. E.g.
http://www.wmrc.com/businessbriefing...gy/mountop.pdf


Point taken!

"MOI has successfully deployed these hermetically sealed drives in a
variety of Department of Defense and commercial applications."

Why would NASA tolerate any other department's success? Mars' ambient
temp being 0 C and below, cooling is not much of an issue. But the
power use! Except ultraminiature hard drives are not rare, either.
Some digital cameras have them. But the bouncing! Park the heads.
But there are no reliability studies! Hire some high school summer
interns and do them. But there are UNKNOWN HAZARDS! Ahhhhhh....

Repeat after Uncle Al, "NASA, SNAFU FUBAR." The first Space Scuttle
had woven ferrite core memory. But then, the Space Scuttle was
designed as a low-orbital nuclear bomber and woven core is
EMP-resistant. NASA is the gang who couldn't shoot straight, casting
their own guns out of pot metal and machining their bullets out of
Mil-Spec shitanium.

As I watch this sorry saga unfold I get the overwhelming impression
that NASA is strutting its stuff and demanding vast Media exposure for
what any competent civilian engineering group would consider to be
piffle. Given a $780 million budget, they could have air-dumped a
rover in an Antarctic dry high desert and done a real time real world
reliability test. (Long range P-3 Orion sub-chasers are currently
underemployed. C-5A cargo planes can fly mostly empty. Vandenberg is
pretty good at firing stuff over a pole.) But wait! NASA must file
an Environmental Impact Report! With somebody or other.

NASA, "It will require weeks to determine the true color of Martian
soil." Didn't any of our nation's best and brightest think to paint
on a color calibration chart? I can walk down the street to a camera
shop and buy one, cheap. I'm certain that Pantone could have supplied
something for 1000X civilian price.

Marines don't sit around crying into their inventory sheets. They
hide stuff in their socks, then go out and kill the enemy. A
perfectly budgeted war with digital readouts doesn't mean much if you
lose it to ragheads using wooden clubs. (Except the REMFS will all
get promotions while the body bags are stacked. Which of those two
sets is NASA?)

Last comment: We've got an apparently functional rover (until its
FlashRAM mysteriously craps out in two weeks) within pissing distance
of naked Martian bedrock. Said stone has a very large albedo compared
to regolith, perhaps like limestone. Does anybody here really believe
the rover will make it over to the rock and have a good look? Or will
there be "intervenin g priorities" that result in the rover's surprise
disablement?

Oh yeah... Is the horrible stupid thing of a rover capable of
translating its position over slabs of smooth dissected rock? You
know where Uncle Al's bet is placed. It wasn't in the specs!

--
Uncle Al
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz.pdf
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/eotvos.htm
(Do something naughty to physics)
Jul 17 '05 #169
"Michael N. Christoff" <mc********@sym patico.caREMOVE THIS> wrote in message news:<LJ******* *************@n ews20.bellgloba l.com>...
"This is a serious problem. This is an extremely serious anomaly," said Pete
Theisinger Spirit project manager.
"There is no single fault that explains all the observables."

"...but Spirit was only transmitting "pseudo-noise", a random series of
zeroes and ones in binary code and not anything the scientists could
decipher."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3421071.stm

l8r, Mike N. Christoff


Just for information through my inbox...

---------------------------------------------

DC Agle (818) 393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Donald Savage (202) 358-1547
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

NEWS RELEASE: 2004-040 January 27, 2004

Martian Landmarks Dedicated to Apollo 1 Crew

NASA memorialized the Apollo 1 crew -- Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger
Chaffee -- by dedicating the hills surrounding the Mars Exploration
Rover Spirit's landing site to the astronauts. The crew of Apollo 1
perished in flash fire during a launch pad test of their Apollo
spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., 37 years ago today.

"Through recorded history explorers have had both the honor and
responsibility of naming significant landmarks," said NASA
administrator Sean O'Keefe. "Gus, Ed and Roger's contributions, as
much as their sacrifice, helped make our giant leap for mankind
possible. Today, as America strides towards our next giant leap, NASA
and the Mars Exploration Rover team created a fitting tribute to these
brave explorers and their legacy."

Newly christened "Grissom Hill" is located 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles)
to the southwest of Spirit's position. "White Hill" is 11.2 kilometers
(7 miles) northwest of its position and "Chaffee Hill" is 14.3
kilometers (8.9 miles) south-southwest of rover's position.

Lt. Colonel Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom was a U.S. Air Force test pilot
when he was selected in 1959 as one of NASA's Original Seven Mercury
Astronauts. On July 21, 1961, Grissom became the second American and
third human in space when he piloted Liberty Bell 7 on a 15 minute
sub-orbital flight. On March 23, 1965 he became the first human to
make the voyage to space twice when he commanded the first manned
flight of the Gemini space program, Gemini 3. Selected as commander of
the first manned Apollo mission, Grissom perished along with White and
Chaffee in the Apollo 1 fire. He is buried at Arlington National
Cemetery, Va.

Captain Edward White was a US Air Force test pilot when selected in
1962 as a member of the "Next Nine," NASA's second astronaut
selection. On June 3, 1965, White became the first American to walk in
space during the flight of Gemini 4. Selected as senior pilot for the
first manned Apollo mission, White perished along with Grissom and
Chaffee in the Apollo 1 fire. He is buried at his alma mater, the
United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.

Selected in 1963 as a member of NASA's third astronaut class, U.S.
Navy Lieutenant Commander Roger Chaffee worked as a Gemini capsule
communicator. He also researched flight control communications
systems, instrumentation systems, and attitude and translation control
systems for the Apollo Branch of the Astronaut office. On March 21,
1966, he was selected as pilot for the first 3-man Apollo flight. He
is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Va.

Images of the Grissom, White and Chaffee Hills can be found at:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/mer2004/rove...s/image-1.html

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars
Exploration Rover project for NASA's Office of Space Science,
Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of
Technology, also in Pasadena. Additional information about the project
is available from JPL at http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov and from
Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., at http://athena.cornell.edu.

---------------------------------------------

-Abhi.
Jul 17 '05 #170

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