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ESA Seeks Software Innovators For Orbiting Laboratory

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the out-of-this-world dept.

Space 35

First time accepted submitter Dario Izzo writes "The European Space Agency is giving the opportunity to try innovative software algorithms on board of one of its planned orbiting platform. The core architecture includes processors of unprecedented power (for space platforms) and it is fully reconfigurable even down to the operating system and firmware levels. Peripherals include cameras, GPS and attitude control. The full technical specifications are available via the European Space Agency web pages."

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35 comments

Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43168427)

How very, very cool!

I SEEK !! THEREFORE I READ (OR WRITE) !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43168433)

I am !! I said !!

mememe (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43168435)

Hi. I'm a Chinese hacker, very bored with hacking your defense computers from the Great Chinese Hacker Sweatshop. Can I program your "orbiting platform", just for a little variety in my life?

p.s. - Any weapon systems on it?

Re:mememe (1)

rooie (2666495) | about a year ago | (#43168867)

No, you can't. You're not a resident of the EU, Switzerland or Norway. Read the questionnaire :-p.

Re:mememe (1)

Halueth (776646) | about a year ago | (#43169321)

So, if I'm a Chinese post-doc temporarily involved in a UNI in say...The Netherlands. Would that be okay?

Re:mememe (1)

rooie (2666495) | about a year ago | (#43169931)

I should learn how to read. Taken from the quesstionnaire: Experiment ideas will be considered acceptable by ESA if one of the following criteria is met: 1. The proposer is affiliated (e.g. post-doc or professor) to an academic institution i.e. university or research institute 2. At least one partner (academic or industrial) in the consortium is based in a country belonging to the EU, Switzerland or Norway 3. The proposer is affiliated to industry

Do you need Unprecedented Power (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#43168783)

for cameras, GPS and attitude control?

You could probably do that with a couple of Raspberry Pis...

Re:Do you need Unprecedented Power (1)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year ago | (#43168835)

Think stuff like image stitching, terrain depth calculations via stereoscopy, detecting growth areas via changes in night-light levels, etc.

Re:Do you need Unprecedented Power (1)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | about a year ago | (#43168893)

Maybe one Pi then. It has a seriously potent GPU.

Re:Do you need Unprecedented Power (1)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year ago | (#43169201)

One Pi, yes. But IN SPACE!!!1!!

On a more serious note, the radiation hardening and reliability required of a space platform limits the performance of pretty much any electronics on board. I wonder if we ever figure out optical-based computers if they will be better at EM/cosmic-particle rejection.

Re:Do you need Unprecedented Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43169455)

I've just realised what the next round of patents is going to be once patenting 'doing something, BUT ON A COMPUTER' runs out of steam, it's 'doing something BUT IN SPACE!'

Re:Do you need Unprecedented Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43168877)

"unprecedented power (for space platforms) ... Peripherals include cameras, GPS and attitude control", so it's probably not that much power, and secondly it could include other stuff aswell.

I can't be bothered to find the full specs, because i don't even know what EMITS system is.

Re:Do you need Unprecedented Power (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year ago | (#43169363)

You don't need unprecedented power for the basics.

Still, if you give unprecedented power to nerds, they always come up with something cooler than you ever thought possible. This is why they don't really make a huge list of demands... but instead just say: This is the hardware. Make us something nice.

The goal is not to just take a couple of pictures of the planet. The goal is to develop technology.

Re:Do you need Unprecedented Power (1)

dragisha (788) | about a year ago | (#43169405)

As other posters said: for one, algorithms involved can grow very big and very demanding, very fast. That is why they are enlisting external help - to devise new things to do with their sensor data.

Also, more complex algorithms possible will give more quality results, with less bandwidth (to transfer raw data to Earth for calculations) spent. There is no way all sensor data can be streamed downside, for any reasonable set of sensors installed.

But, this is European project (as per TFA). Plus half of EFTA (Switzerland and Norway). So, nothing of direct interest for 90+% of people on Earth/here.

Re:Do you need Unprecedented Power (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#43169695)

But, this is European project (as per TFA). Plus half of EFTA (Switzerland and Norway). So, nothing of direct interest for 90+% of people on Earth/here.

Really ? If that statement holds, then a US-funded, US-initiated, US-executed Curiosity is nothing of direct interest for 90+% of people on Earth ( as the US currently only count 4,46 % of the world's population, and the EU + NO + CH close to 8% of the same BTW ).

Re:Do you need Unprecedented Power (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | 1 year,21 days | (#43300673)

Even if I can't apply to submit code or algorithms for this particular case/scenario, the situation itself is very interesting to me. It makes me wonder and question what the point of doing the algorithms in space / microgravity would be... I guess one answer, as you said about transferring raw data to earth, would be better context-sensitive compression algorithms, or perhaps better "context-detecting filter algorithms" that can reject most uninteresting data (or log it onto magnetic media for later analysis when the HD is sent back to earth) but select the promising data that is worth transmitting over the low-bandwidth communications channel.
:>)

Re:Do you need Unprecedented Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43173197)

A couple of raspberry pics IS unprecedented power when talking about spacecraft. these are machine that run on 100 watts total, including flight control and communications.

Innovative Software? (1)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | about a year ago | (#43168897)

In this context, "innovative = "brand new" = "full of bugs". Should be entertaining.

Overcome traditional technological lock-in (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year ago | (#43169333)

I think that they just try to overcome the "lock in" situation they are in right now. It goes something like this: We cannot change the software because we have been using the same software all the time. Changing it would mean we get loads of bugs and problems and drama. Also, you could just read TFA, 2nd paragraph.

It means you end up building system after system on an ancient foundation. And now they want to overcome this issue cheaply by giving all nerds of the European Union the option to build something cool. ESA themselves say they haven't really updated some software for 20 years.

Personally, I think it's a good idea.

Re:Overcome traditional technological lock-in (1)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | about a year ago | (#43169519)

I'm not saying that it's a bad idea. Refactoring can be the only way out of lock-in. On the other hand, the software they are talking about is described in TFA as "critical spacecraft control software". They haven't rewritten it because (a) it works, so they don't need to (b) you don't rewrite that unless you absolutely have reasons to do so that are so compelling that they outweigh the risk of major bugs.

What has changed for ESA is the advent of cubesats, a device so cheap that the consequences of losing a spacecraft are significantly diminished. So they can take risks again with "critical spacecraft control software".

Re:Overcome traditional technological lock-in (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year ago | (#43169653)

Exactly. I just thought that your first post was sarcastic. Reading your 2nd post, I see that I was mistaken. It should indeed be entertaining and informative.

ESA might even mod the project with new software on a cubesat as "insightful" when it's all done.

Re:Innovative Software? (1)

Flyers2391 (1040486) | about a year ago | (#43169753)

In this context, "innovative = "brand new" = "full of bugs". Should be entertaining.

"attitude control" seems new and innovative, should be interesting at least

Re:Innovative Software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43171691)

In this context, "innovative = "brand new" = "full of bugs". Should be entertaining.

I see you're a Microsoft, Oracle, or Adobe customer...

Facebook in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43169001)

In space, they cannot hear you scream!

IT'S A TRAP! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43169239)

C'mon. They want me to run their grubby Javascript code on my box just for me to see anything?

I guess they want to spy on me. No way!

Probably be too much to ask... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43169515)

If they would allow a test of a variant of the 'Three Sisters Deathblow'. :)

Confusing headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43169677)

I read this as "someone on our new space station should be handy with bits and bytes so the team can react to problems and opportunities in real time. We're taking resumes now, but you should be between the ages of 25 and 40 and be able to complete a military basic training test with time to spare."

I guess the latter requirement would rule out Mr. Simonyi.

Too bad... (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | 1 year,21 days | (#43300663)

Too bad more /.ers are not posting on these interesting software based articles. Most of the posting seems to be occurring on the trolling articles about religion, or sexism, or inappropriate remarks, or mean bosses, or real trolls about creationism and their fake prizes baiting people into arguing on the troll's terms... I'm trying not to engage those topics by even posting on those articles.
.
This topic, however, is interesting. What could you do with something like this? It would be more fun if it was part of a control system involved with doing laboratory-style experimentation in space : some sort of experiment or manufacturing technique that would do much better under microgravity.
.
In that case, the interesting control algorithms or the intersting computer vision algorithms that could automatically control (say a centrifuge to provide artificial gravity/acceleration to plant growth) the experimental apparatus based upon changing conditions would be more fun.
.
Otherwise, what exactly is the fun of having your code executing in space or in a micro-gravity environment beyond the "coolness of it"?
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