Probe on Mars updated firmware after 19 years. He has Windows 98

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Representatives of the European Space Agency EKA today, June 23, officially announced that the Mars Express spacecraft, which was launched in 2003 to search for water under the surface of the Martian soil, will receive a firmware update for its MARSIS scientific radar – 19 years after the launch of the probe. Agency experts believe that the latest radar firmware will allow the spacecraft to continue its task of finding water on Mars, plus it will be able to more effectively monitor the nearest satellite of the “red planet” – Phobos.

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In an official press release, ESA specialists recalled that it was the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding radar, installed on board the Mars Express space probe, that made it possible to detect signs of liquid water on Mars – it was this device that helped scientists search for a lake with salt water the size of almost 30 kilometers in diameter. And now, with the firmware update, he will be able to make many more important discoveries, although experts have not yet specified which firmware components will be updated and what exactly the upcoming update is responsible for. Moreover, the engineers who are responsible for downloading the update have had to work in very difficult conditions.

For example, Carlo Nenna, engineer in charge of the MARSIS radar software, said the team ran into a lot of hardware and software issues while trying to update the firmware and improve hardware efficiency. The fact is that the software created for MARSIS was created almost twenty years ago based on the Windows 98 operating system. In addition, this system runs on the RAD750 processor – an improved version of the single-core PowerPC 750 processor with a clock frequency of 233 MHz. Naturally, by modern standards, this is rather weak equipment, but it is worth recalling that the release of the Mars Express apparatus took place in 2003 – then it was advanced technology.

Source: Trash Box

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