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2021 is the year of Linux on Mars

by on22 February 2021


Perseverance, sometime it will be the year of the desktop on Earth

When NASA's Perseverance rover landed on Mars this week, it also brought the Linux operating system to the Red Planet.

NASA software engineer Tim Canham said the helicopter-like drone on board the Perseverance rover uses a Linux-powered software framework the space agency open-sourced a few years ago.

"This the first time we'll be flying Linux on Mars. We're actually running on a Linux operating system", Canham said.

It also might be the first time NASA has brought a Linux-based device to Mars. "There isn't a previous use of Linux that I'm aware of, definitely on the previous rovers", Canham said.

Mars rovers have used proprietary OSes, from Wind River Systems. The same is true for the Perseverance rover itself; the machine has been installed with Wind River's VxWorks, which was used on past Mars missions.

Linux is not the only off the shelf tech used in the rover. The helicopter-like drone Ingenuity "was built using off-the-shelf parts, including Qualcomm's Snapdragon 801 processor, a smartphone chip".

Last modified on 22 February 2021
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