Howard & Jan Oringer Seminar
In August 2012, a large rover named Curiosity, made a soft landing on the surface of Mars. All functions on the rover, and on the spacecraft that brought it to Mars, are controlled by software: about 3 million lines of it. The rover is expected to act as our eyes and ears on Mars for many more years to come.
A radio signal with new commands for the Rover, though, takes between 4 and 24 minutes to cover the distance, depending on where the two planets are in their orbits. And similarly, it takes another 4 to 24 minutes for any response to come back to Earth. This makes real-time control, or interactive debugging when something goes wrong, all-but impossible. In this talk, I will review the processes that JPL follows for developing mission critical software for interplanetary spacecraft.