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HOW The Mars Rover On-Board Computer Works

How Curiosity’s Onboard Computer works, and what you can learn from how it was designed Mars Rover Curiosity is one of the most sophisticated pieces of hardware ever launched into space. Because of the communication delay from Earth to Mars, it needs to accomplish most of its tasks completely autonomously: landing, navigation, exploration and singing birthday songs to itself. To do all this, it only has one central onboard computer. Let’s look at that computer and the software it runs in detail. While space is a somewhat unique environment, we can still learn a lot by looking at how the pieces hardware and software on board of Curiosity are designed and managed. The spacecraft only has one onboard computer that took over from the second it was launched towards Mars. It navigated the stars and orbits, managed a very complicated landing procedure, and now drives around as a car-sized rover over rocks and slippery ravines, all while collecting samples and analysing them with its on board lab.

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