Re: More Spirit updates

Posted by
Barry on Jan 27, 2004 at 19:21

Re: More Spirit updates (Uncle Al)

The Rovers Computer Specs.

The rovers use a RAD6000 computer produced by BAE systems. This processor is nearly identical in architecture to an old PowerPC processor used in early Macintosh computers. By today's standards, these processors are slow. They run at 20 megahertz, about 1/100th the speed of a typical desktop computer today. They have 128 kilobytes (KB) of RAM, 256 KB of flash memory and some ROM to hold the boot code and operating system. There are no disk drives.

Although they are slow and incredibly expensive ($200K to $300K per computer), they have two big advantages:

They are radiation-hardened so they are immune to the cosmic radiation falling on Mars.
They run the ultra-reliable VxWorks (PDF) real-time operating system from Wind River Systems.
This computer makes the rover that much more reliable than a typical desktop computer because it is never crashing or corrupting data.

The computer helps with power management, image processing, motor control, and instrument management. It also handles navigation. The rover has six navigation cameras arranged in three pairs. The computer processes stereo images from the camera pairs. It uses binocular vision algorithms, and it can identify the distance to and size of the different rocks in the field of view. Using this information, the computer can build a map of all the nearby obstacles and then maneuver the rover to avoid them when it is moving.

This information was obtained from our friends at

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