Mars rover camera only 2MP?

Started Aug 9, 2012 | Discussions thread
JukkaV Regular Member • Posts: 125
Re: I think that CPU is 8088...

Zane Paxton wrote:

The low res camera points to the cause as being the low speed transmission system. Well that points to the more exquisite question of why a space vehicle as important as this gets launched with 2004 technology at all???

Because everything has to be tested. Every possible scenario has to be tested. If you don't think this is important then find out what happened to Mars Climate Orbiter.

It's the same reason that the space shuttle continued into its retirement with an 8088 processor for all the critical calculations.... and that crude computer weighs (as I recall) something like 90 pounds and each pound costs a king's ransom to lift into orbit.

AFAIK shuttles didn't actually use 8088 computers, but IBM AP-101 computer (GPC), which used magnetic ring memory. And each shuttle had 5 "general-purpose computers" (GPCs). Four operate in sync, for redundancy, while the fifth is a backup running software written independently. BTW, each CPU weights 57 pounds.

So why is it so damned difficult to incorporate seemingly obvious technical improvements into the (absurd) bureaucracy?? Why after 8 years was it sooooo difficult to upgrade the outdated sensor? What else is also painfully outdated?? If any high tech company had to operate under those conditions, all of them would go out of business very quickly. The space program NEEDS to be as nimble and flexible as Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are to be viable.

Different between Silicon valley entrepreneur and NASA is that when other can make mistakes and other doesn't. Reason for using the OLD magnetic ring memory (every time you read a byte you also reset it) was that it could not be corrupted accidentally.

No wonder we have no replacement for the Space Shuttle.... Our leadership in space has been killed off by bureaucracy.... Here's the thing, innovation is inherently messy and challenging. The problem with the Space Program is that it got lost in demanding perfection and extremely low risk. An example: Back in the early days of the space program the Mercury astronauts complained that pens didn't work in zero gravity. So NASA went off and spend 50 million bucks to research and develop a pressurized pen that would work in space. The pragmatic Russians just used a pencil….

Exactly. Russians used older tech which was good enough.

Main reason for slow tech adaptation on high risk environments, like shuttles, is that better you can forecast how technology works, better you can work with it. When one knows exactly how machine responds in certain conditions, one has best changes to succeed, what ever you want to do. Think your self as photographer. If you know your camera inside out, you have better change to get good images, than if you have a camera you havenever used. With space tech it is same but taken to extreme. You (or NASA) have to know how to operate camera (or technology) with eyes blinded. Literally. So, blindfold yourself, take your camera, walk outside, drive to breathtaking scenery and take a stunning landscape photo (order of actions is important to get a good grasp how NASA have to work).

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