The MARS Rover is using a RAD 6000 computer system which is based on a
RS/6000 using a special 32bit PowerPC based Processor. It is radiation
sheilded. I beleive that the processor is a special radiation hardened
chipas well. It's maximum clock rate is 20mhz. At this clock rate the
processor only draws about 20 watts of power. They are using VME based
boards forthe PCB's i the backplane. The processor is made on a special
production line by Lockheed Martin in Manassas Virginia.
The OS is VxWorks RTOS from WindRiver Systems Inc.A team of eight C
programmers wrote up around 150,000 lines of code for all the software. It
has no hard disk drive, but it has 6meg of EEPROM for the OS with backup
copies of all the software. Plus it uses 128meg of RAM for all the regular
stuff going on. Humm...I forget if this was the flight computer or the rover
though or all of the above.
The old Sojourner rover from the earlier Mars mission has a special Intel
80C85 MCU in it.
From www.HowStuffWorks.com page...
The Onboard Computer
The rovers use a RAD6000 computer produced by BAE systems. This
processor is nearly identical in architecture to an old PowerPC
processor used in early Macintosh computers. By today's standards,
these processors are slow. They run at 20 megahertz, about 1/100th the
speed of a typical desktop computer today. They have 128 kilobytes
(KB) of RAM, 256 KB of flash memory and some ROM to hold the boot code
and operating system. There are no disk drives.
Although they are slow and incredibly expensive ($200K to $300K per
computer), they have two big advantages:
1. They are radiation-hardened so they are immune to the cosmic
radiation falling on Mars.
2. They run the ultra-reliable VxWorks (PDF) real-time operating
system from Wind River Systems.
This computer makes the rover that much more reliable than a typical
desktop computer because it is never crashing or corrupting data.
The computer helps with power management, image processing, motor
control, and instrument management. It also handles navigation. The
rover has six navigation cameras arranged in three pairs. The computer
processes stereo images from the camera pairs. It uses binocular
vision algorithms, and it can identify the distance to and size of the
different rocks in the field of view. Using this information, the
computer can build a map of all the nearby obstacles and then maneuver
the rover to avoid them when it is moving.
On Tue, 13 Apr 2004 23:59:05 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim R.)
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