Linux flies on Mars onboard Snapdragon-powered Ingenuity drone

There was an excessive amount of celebration at NASA and around the globe when the Perseverance rover safely landed on the floor of Mars. That historic second, nonetheless, carries just a few firsts for lots of issues, and never only for area science alone. Whereas the rolling rover is already necessary in itself, its companion helicopter drone is simply as important as it’s the first time NASA used the open supply Linux working system on Mars, opening up the probabilities for tech demos prefer it sooner or later.

Ingenuity, Perseverance’s flying companion, marks a few first issues for NASA and Mars missions. It’s the first plane to fly on Mars, for one, contending with completely different ranges of gravity and atmospheric situations from these of earth. Additionally it is the primary of its type to be constructed from off-the-shelf components, each {hardware} and software program.

The Ingenuity helicopter drone runs on a field powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, an older chipset that’s apparently space-worthy and newer than the boards NASA has inside its rovers. Different components that make up the drone had been additionally sourced from simply accessible client {hardware}.

NASA’s rovers run on a proprietary VxWorks working system developed by Wind River however that was not accessible for the Snapdragon 801 board. That compelled the area company to make use of its personal Linux-based open supply software program framework, “F prime”, which they had been already utilizing at JPL for cubesats and devices.

Extra than simply marking the primary time Linux has landed on Mars, NASA JPL’s Tim Canham tells IEEE Spectrum that Ingenuity’s success is type of a victory for open supply as properly. The power to fly a drone utilizing off-the-shelf components, an open supply working system, and an open supply software program framework bodes properly for tinkerers and dreamers who would possibly wish to experiment on and even enhance this planetary drone.

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