Software // Information Management
01:50 PM
Core System Testing: How to Achieve Success
Oct 06, 2016
Property and Casualty Insurers have been investing in modernizing their core systems to provide fl ...Read More>>

NASA Makes Most Of Curiosity Rover Data

New Mission Data Processing and Control System (MPCS) uses techniques including graphical views to make raw data from Mars rover useful to more team members inside NASA.

NASA Curiosity Visual Tour: Mars, Revealed
NASA Curiosity Visual Tour: Mars, Revealed
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
NASA has begun using a new system to process the raw data generated by its Curiosity rover on Mars. The Mission Data Processing and Control System (MPCS) presents data visually so that it's useful to a wider range of project team members, including mission managers, software developers, and scientists.

For the past week, Curiosity has been parked in the same spot on Mars as NASA tests the rover's robotic arm in preparation for using its instruments to "touch" rocks for the first time. The space agency plans to resume driving the rover within the next few days, generating new kinds of data, such as the composition of rocks, to be transmitted back to mission headquarters at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

MPCS interfaces with NASA's deep-space network, which uses the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as a network node for relaying data to and from Curiosity. Developed in the Java programming language, MPCS puts data into "terms" that other computer systems used on the project can adapt and apply, according to Navid Dehghani, ground systems manager at Jet Propulsion Lab.

[ For more on the Curiosity mission, see Curiosity Rolls Ahead On Mars Following Software Upgrade. ]

The system also produces tailored, graphical views of data for use by Curiosity's various flight operations teams. For example, data relating to the rover's mobility can be presented in a format that is geared to engineers.

"The flight software has parameters that are generated by the rover that tells the team on the ground what is the state of the rover," said Dehghani. "This system provides the capability to view those in graphical terms that are understandable and actionable."

MPCS takes the data received through antennas from the deep-space network and processes the raw data in real time by putting it into a type of "round-robin" buffer. "It receives multiple types of data from the spacecraft. This could be health and engineering data from the rover; it could be voltage or power or thermal numbers," Dehghani said. "They are analyzed, then sent to monitoring stations that are set up to be able to display the data in a meaningful way to the end user."

First used for Curiosity, MPCS will likely have a role in future missions. "We're trying to adapt it to an earth-orbiting mission," Dehghani said, adding that NASA partner Lockheed Martin is also evaluating MPCS for potential use space missions it's supporting.

InformationWeek Government's GovCloud 2012 is a day-long event where IT professionals in federal, state, and local government will develop a deeper understanding of the options available today. IT leaders in government and other experts will share best practices and their advice on how to make the right choices. Join us for this insightful gathering of government IT executives to hear firsthand about the challenges and opportunities of cloud computing. It happens in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 17.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
The Agile Archive
The Agile Archive
When it comes to managing data, donít look at backup and archiving systems as burdens and cost centers. A well-designed archive can enhance data protection and restores, ease search and e-discovery efforts, and save money by intelligently moving data from expensive primary storage systems.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.