SAN DIEGO, 20 March 2007. Express Logic Inc., maker of royalty-free real-time operating systems (RTOS), has announced that its ThreadX RTOS has been used by NASA in its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft.
The MRO mission is to map the surface of Mars with high-resolution and infrared imaging sensors so scientists can gain a better understanding of the Red Planet. ThreadX was the RTOS selected to manage the cameras responsible for the unprecedented quality of image currently being collected.
Image collection is part of the high-resolution imaging science experiment (HiRISE) developed by Ball Aerospace Technologies Corp., the same design team responsible for NASA's Deep Impact mission, which also used ThreadX.
HiRISE provides images of the surface of Mars with finer resolution and a higher level of contrast than ever before. Managed by the ThreadX RTOS, HiRISE application software controls the acquisition of images across a six-kilometer swath of 20,000 pixels at a time while the spacecraft sweeps over the surface of Mars.
While traveling at a speed of 3,200 meters per second, image data is collected using a time delay and integration (TDI) method that matches ground velocity and maintains alignment with the surface of Mars. HiRISE software adds header information to the data, ensuring that image swaths can be reassembled and sends the data to the image storage system and subsequently back to Earth.