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Landing a Spacecraft on Mars

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How much software does it take to land a spacecraft safely on Mars, and how do you make all that code reliable? This column describes such a software development process. The first Web extra at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/videos/movies/miam20121218/miam20121218-1280.mov is a 60-second video from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that shows how NASA's Mars rover drivers operate the vehicles from millions of miles away. The second Web extra at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/videos/movies/msl20120827_curiositycommunicates/msl20120827_curiositycommunicates-1280.mov is an animated video showing how NASA's Curiosity rover communicates with Earth via two of NASA's Mars orbiters, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Odyssey, and the European Space Agency's Mars Express. The third Web extra at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/videos/movies/CoM20121207/CoM20121207-1280.mov is a video discussing the scientific study by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover at Rocknest.

Published in:

IEEE Software  (Volume:30 ,  Issue: 2 )