Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Software Upgrade At 655 Million Kilometers

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the not-the-time-to-test-in-production dept.

Space 57

An anonymous reader writes "The Rosetta probe was launched in 2004 with a mission that required incredible planning and precision: land on a comet. After a decade in space, the probe woke from hibernation in January. Now, Rosetta has spotted its target. 'Rosetta is currently around 5 million kilometers from the comet, and at this distance it is still too far away to resolve – its light is seen in less than a pixel and required a series of 60–300 second exposures taken with the wide-angle and narrow-angle camera. The data then traveled 37 minutes through space to reach Earth, with the download taking about an hour per image.' Now it's time to upgrade the probe's software. Since it's currently 655,000,000 kilometers from Earth, the operation needs to be flawless. 'When MIDAS is first powered up, it boots into "kernel mode" – the kernel manages a very robust set of basic operations for communicating with the spacecraft and the ground and for managing the more complex main program. From kernel mode we can upload patches to the main software, verify the current contents, or even load an entirely new version.' The Rosetta blog is continually being updated with progress on the mission, and the Planetary Society has more information as well. The probe will arrive at the comet in August, and will attempt landing in November."

cancel ×

57 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Beautiful (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611433)

nt

spiritual upgrade at ground zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611439)

we only pretend we have anything to lose really? http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=real+native+spirit&sm=3 when we really we're losing everything we have no idea we have....

Remember when.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611477)

Back in the day you bought a box of software that came on a few 3.5" floppies and that was the last you ever had to deal with it. Why even require and update in the first place?

Re:Remember when.... (4, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 6 months ago | (#46611589)

Bullshit - or selective memory.

Back in the days, you bought a bunch of floppies, installed the software, and then spent years putting up with a lot of annoying bugs that required buying the next version of the software if you wanted to get rid of them. If they had fixed them, maybe.

Updating is great: if you have a slightly shitty piece of software, you stand a fair chance of getting corrections for free. The only annoying thing is when something that works great stops working great because the developer had a brainwave and decided to come up with Something Even Greater[tm] that turns out to suck. But then, you get that for free too, while before, again, you had to pay for the next version of the software to discover the sucky new feature that replaced the useful one.

Re:Remember when.... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611645)

The only annoying thing is when something that works great stops working great because the developer had a brainwave and decided to come up with Something Even Greater[tm] that turns out to suck.

Ah! You use Gnome too, I see.

Re:Remember when.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611647)

I think he was referring to well written software not crapware

Re:Remember when.... (2)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 6 months ago | (#46611815)

Well written software that works so well you don't want to update are few and far between. It's not even laziness by the developers, it's just that all pieces of software have flaws, however hard the developers try to produce quality code. That's just the nature of software.

If you have such a piece of software, well... don't update.

Re:Remember when.... (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 6 months ago | (#46612973)

Even if the software is flawless, the world it's written for evolves so the requirements change.

Re:Remember when.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611991)

Or "my momma went to the doctor and found out that system bloat wasn't just a mole" ware.

Re:Remember when.... (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 months ago | (#46612063)

Sounds like you made poor choices in the software you were using.

Re:Remember when.... (3, Interesting)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 6 months ago | (#46613631)

To be fair, many probes have done this type of thing.

The Voyager probes had software updates regularly in their prime, and it frequently made news back in the day. When approaching a planet or interesting object they would upload imaging software, when finished they would upload different sensor programs. About a decade ago (2003?) there were news stories about how they reprogrammed one of the probes to help detect the crossover to deep space.

It is certainly interesting and poses some risk of breaking the probe, but it is standard procedure and something the probes are designed for.

Re: Remember when.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611681)

Yes I do! The update process is abused, mostly adding stuff that is a benefit to the products company, like extending the EULA, or adding spyware or AD support. The dubious security fix patches? Why not make a secure product to start with? I can't recall getting anything extra from an update, or at least extra that dident come with some awfull BS in addition. I update as little as possible. And if the update is to fix a massive security hole, then, gone is the software from my system. I absolutely hate this new constant update mentality, and the need for software to phone home regularly. Argggg...

Re: Remember when.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46612391)

Have you never wanted to use firefox, chrome, minecraft, nor play an online game? Hath thou never moved beyond MS-DOS? You update everything, it's just some of those updates are more visible or noteworthy than others. Also, what OS can you run if you don't run anything that has had a huge security hole? GladOS?

Re:Remember when.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46612201)

Back in the day you took rocks from the ground and food from the trees and that was the last you ever had to deal with it. Why even require an upgrade to bronze or farming in the first place?

Did you actually use that software? Or was it some sort of modern sculpture that you dusted once in a while and showed up to your friends?

Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611491)

So the probe was running Windows XP?

Just kidding. It is interesting to read about how challenges like these are solved. 35 minutes for the signal to arrive on an interactive session? Wow.

Re:Impressive (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 months ago | (#46611627)

yes, it totally blows having a full-duplex terminal session.

the first thing to do... (2)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 6 months ago | (#46611549)

is to load TWRP so the can finally root the damn thing.

Re:the first thing to do... (1)

CanEHdian (1098955) | about 6 months ago | (#46612897)

According to TFA they have a kernel exploit and will attempt to install a CFW.

In the mean time, forget about torrenting Churyumov.-.Gerasimenko.(2014).CAM.x264-Rosetta.avi as it's VERY blurry and sound is missing.

Re: the first thing to do... (1)

ravnous (301936) | about 6 months ago | (#46614977)

Has Verizon verified that the update won't mess with their LTE network?

Lauched with defects? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611563)

Do when the probe was launched it had software defects? I could understand upgrading data but why upgrade good software just for the sake of upgrading? Or is it a "security" upgrade?

Re:Lauched with defects? (1)

DTentilhao (3484023) | about 6 months ago | (#46611575)

"Do when the probe was launched it had software defects? I could understand upgrading data but why upgrade good software just for the sake of upgrading? Or is it a "security" upgrade?"

The developers decided it would be cheaper to get version 1.01 launched and then rely bug reports from the space aliens for upgrades ..

Re:Lauched with defects? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611655)

"Do when the probe"

lol

Re:Lauched with defects? (3, Insightful)

sosume (680416) | about 6 months ago | (#46611831)

The software obviously wasn't ready when the probe launched. They needed nine more years to develop it. Had they waited, the probe wouldn't be near the comet in time. So it's a rather smart decision.

Re:Lauched with defects? (1)

complete loony (663508) | about 6 months ago | (#46613795)

The latest mars rover didn't know how to drive when it landed. And now it doesn't know how to land. Sometimes it a matter of reducing the amount of software that can go wrong, or just trying to save memory.

Re:Lauched with defects? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 6 months ago | (#46626787)

So they hired CGI to write the software?

Re:Lauched with defects? (3, Informative)

mikael (484) | about 6 months ago | (#46613121)

Rosetta has the Osiris CCD camera onboard, which can take 4 megapixel images (2k x 2k). Unfortunately, the data transfer speed is at best 1K/second, which is going back to the days of 14K modems. Since it's been a decade between the time that the satellite was launched in 2004, and the present day, huge advances in image compression size have taken place. So the researchers will want to upgrade all the compression algorithms. Think how much web browsers have improved in a decade.

http://pdssbn.astro.umd.edu/ho... [umd.edu]

Re:Lauched with defects? (3)

Skylax (1129403) | about 6 months ago | (#46613737)

Excuse my ignorance but I'm curious about these "huge" advances in compression technology. Can you give an example of a particular compression algorithm that hasn't been around in 2004 and is much better than the most commonly used formats (i.e. jpeg) ?

Re:Lauched with defects? (1)

sosume (680416) | about 6 months ago | (#46614179)

H.265? "H.265 is said to double the data compression ratio compared to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC at the same level of video quality"

Re:Lauched with defects? (1)

Skylax (1129403) | about 6 months ago | (#46614437)

Yes, but H.265 is a video compression format. I dont't think they are going to take videos with the OSIRIS camera (or any of the other instruments) nor transmit video data back to earth.

Anyway, after some googling one finds that the most advanced image compression formats are based on some form of wavelet transform.
Examples would be JPEG 2000, JPEG LS and ICER. All of them predate 2004 but have seen some improvement over the last years. ICER was used on the mars exploration rovers, so it could be they use something similar on the rosetta probe.
Their compression rates are all very similar and differ only in their compational efficiency. Some comparisons can be found in this paper [jpeg.org] and here [sut.ac.jp] (homepage of the MRP Format (Minimum-Rate Predictors), which marginally outperforms JPEG formats but only on 8bit grayscale images).
The latter also compares against JPEG XR or HD Photo from Microsoft which was released in 2009 but seems to perform worse than JPEG-LS.

I don't see any advances in still image compression since 2004 that I would describe as huge, but that view is just based on a quick internet research. I'd be happy to change my mind on this.
Maybe NASA or ESA have been working on something much better and I just missed it (I didn't check patent databases).

Re:Lauched with defects? (1)

akozakie (633875) | about 6 months ago | (#46615041)

Yes, compression doesn't seem to be the likely reason, I'd look for other ones. But I'd be careful about using any publicly available comparisons of compression methods in this case, because it does not matter which one is better on average. The scientists know what to expect, how the image is likely to look, etc. They'd choose the best algorithm for this specific use case, and that might very well be a different one than for FB selfies... Not that I expect a huge difference anyway.

IP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611567)

So, what the IP address of that thing?

Re:IP? (5, Informative)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 6 months ago | (#46611595)

127.0.0.1

Hack away my friend...

Re:IP? (2)

houghi (78078) | about 6 months ago | (#46613645)

IP adresses are hard. That is why they invented DNS. So use: hackme.houghi.org

To help you start, first do nmap.

Re:IP? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 6 months ago | (#46614135)

Hmm, that seems to be in the same network (127.0.0.1/8) as the Rosetta probe, so I assume the IP is some important server in the ESA network. I'm launching my hack toolkit there right now...aahhahhhahh
NO CARRIER

Punch card stacks, anyone? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#46611573)

Since it's currently 655,000,000 kilometers from Earth, the operation needs to be flawless

Well, *that* is the real reason why they taught all those students to program on punch cards and have their batch jobs run on Saturday nights with cheap CPU time. It was to prepare those students to program spacecrafts far, far away...

more like this plz (1)

pyg (10303) | about 6 months ago | (#46611611)

'nuff said, now that your DICE got limp and your TACO dropped.

Remember to unclick the box . . . ! (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 6 months ago | (#46611633)

. . . otherwise, the probe will be filled with a bunch of unwanted McAfee bloatware!

Re:Remember to unclick the box . . . ! (1)

rvw (755107) | about 6 months ago | (#46612177)

. . . otherwise, the probe will be filled with a bunch of unwanted McAfee bloatware!

Beware of the Rosetta Rickrole [youtube.com] !

oh no, the windows updates! (0)

lkernan (561783) | about 6 months ago | (#46611643)

" launched in 2004"

No wonder the link is so slow, just think of the number of patch Tuesdays that machine has missed.

It will spend a week sending back:

installing update x of 170
do not power off or unplug your machine
it will restart automatically when complete.

Updating at interplanetary distances is easy... (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 6 months ago | (#46611721)

Compared to updating a desktop Windows box while some clueless biddy is clicking away on your installer at random ("Yes! I definitely want the Cryptolocker browser toolbar" "It hasn't done anything for five minutes! Should I unplug it and call great-grandson Justin on his text thingie?" "Yes, let's have Windows Live control my Hotmail").

I would be too paranoid (4, Insightful)

Razed By TV (730353) | about 6 months ago | (#46612181)

to publicly state that "We have to flawlessly update this thing from 655km away" until after I already updated it.

655,000,000 kilometres = 655 gigametres (2)

Benson Arizona (933024) | about 6 months ago | (#46612579)

This type of failure to employ basic SI prefixes really gets my goat! The metre is an SI unit so multiples should use the correct SI prefix. 1000 kilometres is a megametre and 1000 megametres (or 1 000 000 kilometres) is a gigametre. So the above stated distance of 655,000,000 kilometers from Earth should have been specified as 655 gigametres (or 655 Gm).

I know nothing of these "software upgrades" of which they speak.

Re:655,000,000 kilometres = 655 gigametres (2)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 6 months ago | (#46612919)

I'd be paranoid too; if anything goes wrong, they'll have turned the Rosetta into a stone.

Re:655,000,000 kilometres = 655 gigametres (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46613011)

Good luck with your battles there, Chief. It's time well spent.

Re:655,000,000 kilometres = 655 gigametres (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46613303)

I'm just happy you didn't convert it to miles.

Re:655,000,000 kilometres = 655 gigametres (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46614151)

Can't we just use something easy to visualize like "all the books in the Library of Congress in a row"?

Re:655,000,000 kilometres = 655 gigametres (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46618995)

"Since it's currently the length of 1,300,000,000 Olympic swimming pools from Earth, ..."

Re:655,000,000 kilometres = 655 gigametres (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46618905)

Actually, in space, the preferred method of unit is AU.

655 gigametres =
4.37840457 Astronomical Units

KR's

Re:655,000,000 kilometres = 655 gigametres (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46618919)

I mean "local space" i.e. Our Solar System.

FailWz0rs? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46612645)

win out; either the ink splashes across An operating syste8 savde Linux from a

Will this be the year? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46613091)

... of Linux on the comet?

Best Slashdot summary ever. (4, Informative)

smaddox (928261) | about 6 months ago | (#46613169)

Period.

It's always a hand-wringing operation (4, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | about 6 months ago | (#46613811)

Viking 1 [wikipedia.org] (first lander on Mars) was killed by a software update.

The lander operated for 2245 sols (about 2306 Earth days or 6 years) until November 11, 1982 (sol 2600), when a faulty command sent by ground control resulted in loss of contact. The command was intended to uplink new battery charging software to improve the lander's deteriorating battery capacity, but it inadvertently overwrote data used by the antenna pointing software.

Done! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46615137)

Update completed successfully. Press any key to continue...

Just to be sure (0)

woboyle (1044168) | about 6 months ago | (#46616537)

Just to be sure, don't forget to check your statement terminators (such as a semi-colon). Getting one of those wrong sent a previous probe into the sun... :-(

Upgrade fails. (1)

ebvwfbw (864834) | about 6 months ago | (#46618081)

Years later they retrieve the machine, hook up a KVM. What they see is - Suspected corrupted filesystem. FSCK, Please type in root's password to proceed.

The 'Doh! could be heard across the country.

Reason for upgrade (1)

mannd (841376) | about 6 months ago | (#46620839)

The end of Windows XP support has far-reaching effects.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>