Curiosity is on it’s way this morning to Mars for the next eight months. Launched this morning atop an Atlas V vehicle, Curiosity is the size of a small car, several times the weight, and carries many times the scientific instruments of its predecessor rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.
The nearly 2,000 pound rover is expected to be landed on Mars next August in a “precision landing” involving multiple, sequenced stages of deceleration and eventual touchdown. When it does, it will join the exploration vehicles, on the surface and in orbit around Mars, that unanimously run VxWorks, the software product I teach. VxWorks is also a key component in the Atlas V and earlier launch vehicles.
I’ve been privileged the past several years to work with engineers on these and many similar systems. I’ve also worked with engineers engaged in building medical devices, automotive systems and network fixtures that run the internet at large as well as the ones in some of your houses. And I’ve worked with engineers building many of the devices, some in “remote piloted” as well as completely autonomous flight vehicles, that are used in defense and security missions around the world. Finally, I’ve taught many engineers who, when asked what they are working on, simply change the subject.
It is all important to our collective futures, and I am honored to contribute in my own small way.