Driving the Mars Rovers

Linux is the desktop platform for the team driving NASA's Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.

Overall, Linux has evolved and surpassed our expectations substantially for it as a programming platform. The background of our team initially varied from experienced Linux advocates to complete Linux newbies, but we all gained new experience with Linux and the many open-source tools available to its users. Particularly with regard to accelerated OpenGL-based graphics, what started as a low-end alternative to high-priced graphics servers continues to outperform the big iron for our applications.

This research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement by the United States Government or the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.

Frank Hartman currently is a software engineer specializing in computer graphics and a Mars rover driver at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and a Master of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Stanford University. Frank resides in Altadena, California with his wife, Leah.

Scott Maxwell is a software developer and Mars rover driver at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He enjoys practicing aikido, reading classic literature and summarizing his own life in a few words. He is the author of Linux Core Kernel Commentary.


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