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2021 is the year of Linux on Mars

Posted on 22/02/2021
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Helicops Mars Ingenuity image
Helicops Mars Ingenuity image, for IEEE. 2021. Licence: Tots els drets reservats

The MARS 2020 mission took off from Earth on July 30, 2020. Months later, the Ingenuity helicopter has finally reached the red planet and made landfall safely. It is governed by the Linux operating system and anyone can use the code.

NASA engineers explained how the Ingenuity helicopter worked: it only weighs 1.8 kg, but is capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and flies fully autonomously. The idea is that it is able to take some photos and perform some 90 second flight during the next 30 days that they have estimated for its operational life cycle.

A NASA's open source project

In an interview for the IEEE organization's website, NASA senior engineer Tim Canham explains that all the software used by the Ingenuity helicopter is open source written for Linux: "It's kind of an open source victory, because we're flying with an open source operating system (Linux) and open source flight software and commercial parts that you can buy at any store, if you want to do it yourself one day. "

This open source software enables rapid development and deployment of spaceflight and other embedded software applications. In addition, it carries two cameras that will take images in the skies of the red planet.

Its importance lies in the fact that it will be the first time that an air vehicle of this type has been deployed on a planet outside Earth. It is also the first time the agency has used open source software in its Martian robotic missions.