Tuesday, April 15, 2014
12:00 pm
Annenberg 105

Howard & Jan Oringer Seminar

Mars Code
Gerard Holzmann, Laboratory for Reliable Software (LaRS), Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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.

Contact Sydney Garstang sydney@caltech.edu at 626-395-4555
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