Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Software bug killed Mars Global Surveyor

PodCast audio there too. The podcast audio suggests some bogus addresses overwrites in an earlier software update caused the thing to orient its radiators towards the sun and the batteries overheated and croaked.

If true, this was a lousy hardware/software architecture. A physical heat sensor on the batteries could have been tied to a simple hardware reset circuit to force a cold restart from some sort of PROM (containing virgin un-updated code). IOW, force the thing back to ground zero if its any of the various internal sensors or watchdogs detect that its in some sort of wedged condition.

NASA Watch reports that NASA's Mars Global Surveyor stopped responding to commands a few months ago due to improperly coded software.

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