The landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars was not just a victory for science, but also for open source software. ZD Net brought this exciting news to us in their article, “To infinity and beyond: Linux and open-source goes to Mars.”

In its bid to use software that was “safe and proven”, NASA turned to Linux and open source. The flight software framework NASA is using on the tiny helicopter dubbed Ingenuity, that’s tucked under the Perseverance Mars rover, was actually originally developed for miniature satellites called CubeSats. 

This isn’t the first open source software that’s made its way into space. NASA has in fact over 500 software projects that it has released under the NASA Open Source 3.0 license, which is an Open Source Initiative (OSI)-approved open source license. Just like open source, Linux has also been in use by NASA for several years now. The space agency, along with the United Space Alliance, which manages the computers aboard the International Space Station, switched the computers aboard the International Space Station to Debian Linux in 2013.

Melody K. Smith

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