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"Panfil, Thomas A." <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Panfil, Thomas A.
Thu, 24 Jul 1997 19:17:00 EDT
text/plain (86 lines)
Juan M. Rayas of JPL Wrote:

 My involvement is in the flight software for the imaging spectrometer
 instrument of the orbiter. I would like to propose the use of Ada95 for
 this instrument. The proposed flight computer is a PowerPC 603 with
 a PCI bus.

 Before I go to battle on this, I would like to know if anybody has any
 experience (or recommendations) with Ada95 compilers for this target.
 The VxWorks OS is a strong possibility, but not a requirement.

Mike Brenner Replied:

>It would be exciting to have Ada 95 fly to Mars.
>    > The proposed flight computer is a PowerPC 603 with a PCI bus.
>There are some things that should be asked before choosing between,
>for example, VxWorks or COTS operating systems or Free operating systems.
>For example: will the low-power Power-PC be on a board on an Amiga?
>             if not, how will it be configured?
>             how will it be protected from the radiation?
>             is it okay if it reboots occasionally due to memory leakage?
>             is it okay if it hangs and requires external reboots?
>             is there any prejudice against OS/2?
>             is there a need for tasking, reliable software, or

I think that our friend from JPL simplified the hardware description to
put it into a commonly known context.  I suspect that the processor he
really considers using is the RAD6000 which is currently in use on the
ongoing exploration by the "Mars Pathfinder Mission."

Per a 14 July 1997 Federal Computer Week article entitled "COTS in Space":


One of the main components of the mission is the on-board processor
that guided the Pathfinder Lander's journey to Mars, controlled its
landing, and now governs its operation from the planet's surface.
The processor, a radiation-hardened version of IBM Corp.'s 32 bit-RISC
System/6000, was adapted for the mission by Lockheed Martin Federal
Systems in Manassas, VA.

The chip is the first radiation-hardened commercial processor to guide
a NASA mission.  The RAD6000, as it was renamed by Lockheed, was
responsible for crucial elements of the flight to Mars such as cruise
altitude control.  The chip also managed the lander's entry events,
including deploying the parachutes and air bags that cushioned the
Lander's fall to Mars.


Despite its radiation-hardened state, the commercial version of the
processor provides the Pathfinder mission with 22 MIPS of processing
power.  The RAD6000 can provide an unprecedented space throughput of
up to 35 MIPS, ...

In addition to the processor, the flight computer contains a sealed
memory unit that also uses off-the-shelf technology, with tweaks to
allow it to survive the energy particles.  Although the mission required
128M of dynamic RAM, this type of memory space is not available in the
hardened state, ...  The processor's memory unit detects any damage
done by the particles and heals itself through a special error
correction process.


News reports typically seem to have some garbles, and can't provide all
details.  This one doesn't mention the bus or the OS used, but some
IBM RISC System/6000 machines are called "PowerPCs".

    ooooooooo oooo oooooo  ooooo   oooo oooo  ooo oo o o   o
  _||______________----- ____________ ____________       ____---____
 / __   _   _   _  \[]|/   Ada95    | |Ada|  |83 |        |  C++  |
 \|__|_/ \_/ \_/ \\_\_||____________|.|___|__|___|.     |_|_______|_|~C
 //o^o \_/ \_/ \_/ o^o  o^o^o  o^o^o   o^o    o^o        o^o     o^o
                           Thomas A. Panfil
          Secretary & Treasurer -- Baltimore SIGAda
                  (301) 498-7313