The Mars spacecraft is finally being updated with Windows 98 Era software

The Mars spacecraft is finally being updated with Windows 98 Era software

Mars Express artist impression.  The background is based on a real-life image of Mars taken by the spacecraft's high-resolution stereo camera.

An example of a Mars Express spacecraft launched in 2003.
Example: ESA

Dial-up Internet Day, AOL Instant Messenger, and MySpace may end up on Earth, but on Mars, the first years of the Internet are still alive. The Mars spacecraft is running on software designed more than 20 years ago in a proprietary environment based on Microsoft Windows 98, and there is still plenty of time to update.

Is the European Space Agency (ESA) Refresh This Mars Express Orbiter MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar Sub-Surface and Ioniospheric Sound) software, 19 years after the launch of the satellite. The MARSIS instrument, the first radar announcer in another planet’s orbit, helped find evidence of water on Mars in 2018. The Mars Express spacecraft orbits Mars.

MARSIS does all this using very old software that has not been updated since the launch of the satellite in June 2003. Through many injuries. “After decades of useful science and a better understanding of Mars, we wanted to move the device’s performance beyond certain limitations when the mission began,” said Andrea Sechiti, deputy chief investigator at MARSIS, who led the new development. He was doing it. Said in one Statement.

The new software was designed by the National Institute of Astrophysics in Italy, which operates spacecraft. The team behind the new software has implemented a number of upgrades to improve the device’s ability to send and receive signals, in addition to enhancing the on-board data processing to “increase the quantity and quality of science data sent to Earth.” According to the ESA. .

“Previously, to study the most important features on Mars, and to study its lunar phobos, we relied on a complex technique that stores a lot of high-resolution data and fills the device’s inboard memory quickly,” he said. Cicchetti said. “By removing data that we don’t need, the new software allows us to activate MARSIS five times longer and explore a much larger area with each pass.”

The new software will be used to study areas near the South Pole of Mars, where liquid water traces on the Red Planet have already been found in low-resolution data. MARSIS with the demise of its Windows 98 version Software, it will be able to inspect these areas very quickly, using high resolution data. Determining whether Mars has liquid water is crucial to understanding whether the planet was habitable during its early history, and if it may have hosted certain types of life.

The Mars Express has been working hard over the past 19 years, with the spacecraft’s mission extended seven times so far. Although it is currently ESA’s lowest-cost mission, the Mars Express provides valuable information on Mars and its moon Phobos. And with the new software update, the space rear team expects big things from this retro orbit. “It’s really like a new device on board the Mars Express almost 20 years after launch,” Sechiti said.

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