JPL chooses Wind River VxWorks real-time software for newest NASA Mars rover

Curiosity

ALAMEDA, Calif., 7 Aug. 2012. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL’s) Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, which landed safely on Mars at 10:31 p.m. PDT on 5 Aug. 2012, is the most complex robotic interplanetary probe ever designed--and it is running on Wind River's VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS), says a company spokesperson.

Curiosity will investigate whether Mars has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, and assess Mars’ habitability for future human exploration. VxWorks provided the core operating system for the spacecraft control system, from the moment the rocket left Earth on 26 Nov. 2011 until completion of the mission.

Curiosity relied on VxWorks for the complex landing sequence, called EDL (entry, descent, and landing) and referred to as “seven minutes of terror” given the precision required for the spacecraft to survive the landing, the spokesperson explains. While on Mars, Curiosity will employ VxWorks to perform mission-critical tasks, such as ground operations control, data collection, and Mars-to-Earth communication relay.

“For more than two decades, Wind River’s reliable and secure software has served as a key foundational technology for aerospace organizations globally, and we are extremely proud to continue our legacy as a technology provider for NASA JPL’s space programs.”,” said Ken Klein, president of Wind River.

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