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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 18459
David C DiNucci <da**@elepar.co m> wrote in message news:<40******* ********@elepar .com>...
While I hesitate to bash NASA (I do think they're doing very important
work, and I worked there myself for seven years), I regrettably prolong
a thread which has been OT from its inception with this excerpt from a
recent news article:

"[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?


Oh my #$*&%'ing G*d.

Ok ... obligatory disclaimer about difficulty of ...

Screw it! This is a a languid courtesan, reclining seductively, and
saying "bash me, big boy"!

I am almost flabbergasted into textlessness. The fact that a system
.... any system, not just a computer ... may work correctly in some one
or two delta range yet fail in some 10 or 20 delta range ... some
newbie tyro university graduate wet behind the ears neophyte kid might
make this mistake in a small project, and the old seasoned pro salt
seen it all manager would take this as a teaching opportunity. But in
an entire organization, a huge project putting a robot on a distant
planet, and not once did this occur to anybody!? Nobody with
sufficient experience or a long enough memory reviewed the test plans?

Anybody who has operated MicroSoft windows has had the same
experience: crap accumulates with operation.

This is the type of thing which used to get me flamed when I chatted
in the all-computer-pro group of a local ISP: since I can no longer
write even a Basic program, how can I dare comment ... oish. Wet
nurse tyro-ish newbie error. Inbred self-congratulating community.
Industrial experience of a polywog. Etc.

Help me out here, Uncle Al: I'm running out of germane insults. ;-)

Size of institutional memory buffer needs to be increased. Political
ossification makes effective project review impossible.
Jul 17 '05 #171
On Tue, 27 Jan 2004 09:52:57 -0800, Uncle Al <Un******@hate. spam.net>
wrote:
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


"64K should be enough for everybody."
Bill Gates (1981)

I do not think that the above contradicts in any way! (:-))

--
Regards,
Dmitry A. Kazakov
www.dmitry-kazakov.de
Jul 17 '05 #172
> 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

^^^^^
-- Stefan
Jul 17 '05 #173
Dmitry A Kazakov sez:
On Tue, 27 Jan 2004 09:52:57 -0800, Uncle Al <Un******@hate. spam.net>
wrote:
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


"64K should be enough for everybody."
Bill Gates (1981)


Now google for exact source of this quote.

Dima
--
We're sysadmins. Sanity happens to other people. -- Chris King
Jul 17 '05 #174
Dimitri Maziuk wrote:
Dmitry A Kazakov sez:
On Tue, 27 Jan 2004 09:52:57 -0800, Uncle Al <Un******@hate. spam.net>
wrote:

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/

"Thorough ly 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


"64K should be enough for everybody."
Bill Gates (1981)

Now google for exact source of this quote.

Dima


You'r right, we have an expression at school that "Memory is cheap".
Even our larger apps don't take much more than 100mb of memory (that's
for huge simulations).

But its a special case. When you have to lift up the memory where 1 lb
of equipment is 5lb of propellant, then its another issue. They have to
skim on weight, and that includes having small amounts of memory.. As a
tradeoff i bet they have abit of a faster processor and transmitter.

The mars rover is an example of Software Engineering vs Computer Science
vs Computer Engineering vs Electrical Engineering.
Jul 17 '05 #175
Uncle Al <Un******@hate. spam.net> wrote in message news:<40******* *******@hate.sp am.net>...

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.


This is a trivial engineering problem to address. Encase the HD in a
larger sealed and presurize container, with enough surface area and/or
internal air circulation to keep it cool. A low power 2.5" HD
shouldn't take that much larger of a container. What about the flash
sized microdrives?

-Bruce
Jul 17 '05 #176
Bruce Bowen wrote:
Uncle Al <Un******@hate. spam.net> wrote in message news:<40******* *******@hate.sp am.net>...
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.

This is a trivial engineering problem to address. Encase the HD in a
larger sealed and presurize container, with enough surface area and/or
internal air circulation to keep it cool. A low power 2.5" HD
shouldn't take that much larger of a container. What about the flash
sized microdrives?


From what i was tought all hard drives must be kept sealed. This is
because dust and air pollutants could accumulate on the read head, and
if disaster strikes, a particle of dust could get between the head and
the disk (which are almost touching, but not quite).

-Bruce

Jul 17 '05 #177
On 29 Jan 2004 16:20:29 -0800, br*****@my-deja.com (Bruce Bowen)
wrote:
Uncle Al <Un******@hate. spam.net> wrote in message news:<40******* *******@hate.sp am.net>...

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.


This is a trivial engineering problem to address. Encase the HD in a
larger sealed and presurize container, with enough surface area and/or
internal air circulation to keep it cool. A low power 2.5" HD
shouldn't take that much larger of a container. What about the flash
sized microdrives?


Yeah, and the 4+ Gs that the drive would experience during take-off
would do wonders for that drive! Not to mention the high levels of
radiation in space would probably fry any drive (to the best of my
knowledge, no one makes rad-hardened hard drives).

Just stick everything on a disk-on-chip, much easier and cheaper than
trying to jerry-rig some sort of hard drive contraption.

-------------
Tony Hill
hilla <underscore> 20 <at> yahoo <dot> ca
Jul 17 '05 #178
In article <35************ *************** ***@news.1usene t.com>,
Tony Hill <hi************ *@yahoo.ca> wrote:
Yeah, and the 4+ Gs that the drive would experience during take-off
would do wonders for that drive!


Don't worry about the launch so much as the transients on landing
(which is to say, hitting and bouncing a couple of dozen times :-)
Jon
__@/
Jul 17 '05 #179
In sci.physics, Yoyoma_2
<Yoyoma_2@[>
wrote
on Fri, 30 Jan 2004 04:26:31 GMT
<X1lSb.333660$X %5.19364@pd7tw2 no>:
Bruce Bowen wrote:
Uncle Al <Un******@hate. spam.net> wrote in message news:<40******* *******@hate.sp am.net>...
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.

This is a trivial engineering problem to address. Encase the HD in a
larger sealed and presurize container, with enough surface area and/or
internal air circulation to keep it cool. A low power 2.5" HD
shouldn't take that much larger of a container. What about the flash
sized microdrives?


From what i was tought all hard drives must be kept sealed. This is
because dust and air pollutants could accumulate on the read head, and
if disaster strikes, a particle of dust could get between the head and
the disk (which are almost touching, but not quite).


At the scale of a disk drive's heads a human hair would
be the equivalent of hitting a mountain -- but with a
slightly different result; instead of simply destroying
the item hitting the platter, it would leave a very nasty
gouge in the platter -- a head crash. Therefore all drives
of this type have to be sealed.

I was under the impression that drives had to survive
10-G impulse tests (e.g., dropping a laptop on the floor
from the height of a desk). So 4G wouldn't be much of a
problem to handle.

I don't know about radiation.

Uncle Al has a point; here on Earth there's a good
(relatively speaking) connection between ambient air and
the drive's internals. At 1 kPa the thermal flow is much
more tenuous; of course, one could deploy the drive with
a large cooling panel which doubles as its power supply
(the sun powers the drive; the water circulates among
the panels, heating them and cooling the drive). A large
forced-air fan might complete the ensemble, making for a
Frankenstein's monster that looks like a cross between a
jet engine and a tail-dragging Godzilla... :-) though I
suspect the primary cooling method is radiative.

Modern computers are starting to use water-cooling, which
could get interesting if people get the bright idea of
hooking the heat exchanger into the cold-water supply as
opposed to letting it exhaust noisily into the ambient air.
Of course all that does is transfer the heat elsewhere
(and possibly waste water), probably into the sea if the
water is allowed to drain, or to one's neighbors if the
water goes back into the line (not recommended for various
reasons; in fact, backflow check valves are required for
certain equipment).

I would think, though, that, absent radiation concerns,
flash memory is a nice solution -- and the radiation
presumably can be mitigated by proper shielding.



-Bruce

--
#191, ew****@earthlin k.net
It's still legal to go .sigless.
Jul 17 '05 #180

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