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HomeTechThe Mars Express spacecraft is finally getting a Windows 98 upgrade

The Mars Express spacecraft is finally getting a Windows 98 upgrade

Engineers on the European Space Agency (ESA) are getting prepared for a Windows 98 upgrade on an orbiter circling Mars. The Mars Express spacecraft has been working for greater than 19 years, and the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) instrument onboard has been utilizing software program based mostly on Windows 98. Thankfully for humanity and the Red Planet’s sake, the ESA isn’t upgrading to Windows ME.

The MARSIS instrument on ESA’s Mars Express was key to the invention of a huge underground aquifer of liquid water on the Red Planet in 2018. This main new software program upgrade “will allow it to see beneath the surfaces of Mars and its moon Phobos in more detail than ever before,” according to the ESA. The company initially launched the Mars Express into area in 2003 as its first mission to the Red Planet, and it has spent practically twenty years exploring the planet’s floor.

MARSIS makes use of low-frequency radio waves that bounce off the floor of Mars to seek for water and research the Red Planet’s environment. The instrument’s 130-foot antenna is able to looking out round three miles under the floor of Mars, and the software program upgrades will improve the sign reception and onboard knowledge processing to enhance the standard of information that’s despatched again to Earth.

Mars’ south pole, as seen from Mars Express.
Image: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

“We faced a number of challenges to improve the performance of MARSIS,” explains Carlo Nenna, a software program engineer at Enginium who is serving to ESA with the upgrade. “Not least because the MARSIS software was originally designed over 20 years ago, using a development environment based on Microsoft Windows 98!”

The ESA and operators on the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) have relied on a approach to retailer a number of high-resolution knowledge on the MARSIS instrument, however it fills up the onboard reminiscence shortly. “By discarding data that we don’t need, the new software allows us to switch MARSIS on for five times as long and explore a much larger area with each pass,” says Andrea Cicchetti, a MARSIS operation supervisor at INAF. “The new software will help us more quickly and extensively study these regions in high resolution and confirm whether they are home to new sources of water on Mars. It really is like having a brand new instrument on board Mars Express almost 20 years after launch.”

The ESA hasn’t detailed the precise software program that the MARSIS is being upgraded to, however it’s unlikely the group has upgraded its CPU and enabled TPM 2.0 within the BIOS to get Windows 11 put in. Right?



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