Mars and Embedded Technology

Embedded technology has been a core part of NASA’s space programs for quite some time now. One of the earliest instances of embedded technology usage by NASA goes all the way back to its Space Shuttle Program. Ever since then, the incorporation of embedded technology has grown by leaps and bounds at NASA.

Today, it is an integral part of their Mars Rover Project. Embedded technology has been used to provide complex command and compute capabilities that help operate the Mars Rover. For starters, the Mars rover has better autonomous capabilities compared to the earlier Pathfinder. With advanced hazard avoidance and navigation software, the Rovers are able to steer away from the path of danger much more efficiently.

This comes as a result of two embedded software applications that blend hardware and software performance. To begin with, a motor controller controls the motors for the wheels and the RAT (Rock Abrasion Tool), thereby enhancing the stability. Then, a first-time flight component works as a clock controller, night-time computer, and as a charge balancer for the batteries.

The Mars rover also boasts of better vision. It’s capable of producing high resolution images thanks to lighter and smaller cameras that come with an ICER (International Confederation of Energy Regulators) wavelet-based image compressor. The image compressor compresses 12mb images to 1mb with minimal reduction in quality.