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“Faster, better, cheaper” technologies used in the attitude and information management subsystem for the Mars Pathfinder mission

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2 Author(s)
Woerner, D.F. ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA, USA ; Lehman, David H.

The “Faster, Better, Cheaper” thrust at NASA/JPL has pushed new technologies into spacecraft designed for interplanetary missions. This is especially true for “Discovery” class missions such as Mars Pathfinder. This mission is set to send a lander and enclosed microrover to the surface of Mars for a “low cost”. The Pathfinder flight system must be built for $150M (FY92 dollars) as compared to the two 1976 Viking missions costing $3.2 billion in 1992 dollars. Mars Pathfinder is designed to meet this budget and prove out technologies for long-term investigation of Mars and future low cost missions. The Pathfinder Flight System Attitude and Information Management (AIM) subsystem design takes advantage of numerous new parts, components, commercial equipment and software, and commercial and military standards to achieve its mission. Some of the new interplanetary spaceflight technologies include: commercial DC-DC converters; a hard VMEbus backplane; field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs); electrically erasable eROMs (EEPROMs); the VxWorks operating system; dynamic ICAMs in hermetically-sealed memory cards; and a rad-hardened, 22MIPS, RISC CPU. The insertion of these technologies has enabled the AIM subsystem to be built to support landing a low-cost Pathfinder spacecraft on Mars. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the Pathfinder mission and the AIM subsystem and to provide a detailed description of the technologies listed above

Published in:

Aerospace Applications Conference, 1995. Proceedings., 1995 IEEE

Date of Conference:

4-11 Feb 1995