“When NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars this week, it also brought the Linux operating system to the Red Planet,” reports PC Magazine:
The tidbit was mentioned in an interview NASA software engineer Tim Canham gave to IEEE Spectrum. The helicopter-like drone on board the Perseverance rover uses a Linux-powered software framework the space agency open-sourced a few years ago. “This the first time we’ll be flying Linux on Mars. We’re actually running on a Linux operating system,” Canham said.
It also might be the first time NASA has brought a Linux-based device to Mars. “There isn’t a previous use of Linux that I’m aware of, definitely on the previous rovers,” Canham told PCMag in an email.
Past Mars rovers have used proprietary OSes, largely from the software company Wind River Systems. The same is true for the Perseverance rover itself; the machine has been installed with Wind River’s VxWorks, which was used on past Mars missions.
The article also notes that the helicopter-like drone Ingenuity “was built using off-the-shelf parts, including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 processor, a smartphone chip.”
“Ingenuity is purely a technology demonstration,” notes ZDNet. “It’s not designed to support the Perseverance mission, which is searching for signs of ancient life and collecting rock and dirt samples for later missions to return to Earth. Its mission is to show that it’s possible to fly on Mars using commercial off-the-shelf hardware and open-source software.”