And Then There Was One

NASA CONCLUDES ATTEMPTS TO CONTACT ROVER 'SPIRIT'Last night the news of Spirit's mission coming to a close hit my mailbox.For me, her journey started about eleven years ago.  A call from JPL came to my office phone, it was Glenn.  "Mike, we're putting the team back together, we're going back to Mars."Those words were like music to my ears.  Completing…

Rendezvous with a Rock

MESSENGER Spacecraft is approaching it's rendezvous with Mercury.  After flying for over 2400 days, in a little over 24 hours (from writing this)  MESSENGER will maneuver into orbit, the first time a satellite has orbited Mercury.  We hope to learn a lot about the composition of the surface and effects of solar weathering of the surface.  And there's the prospect…

Remarkable

"Space... the final frontier" is how the pre-recorded message from NASA to the Crew of Discovery started this morning. This afternoon while covering the final departure of Discovery from the ISS, the Newsman said "Remarkable - a remarkable bit of technology and a lasting mark on history" - or something to that effect. I thought "Remarkable" - that's a word…

Autonomy and Robotic Advancement

A few months ago on the Robotics Virtual Trade Show in my presentation I spoke about the evolution of robotic systems.  One thing I predicted was as time goes on, robots will become more independent and autonomous, performing more of the work humans and mainframe-style systems have traditionally performed.  Among the robots I talked about were robots similar to NASA's Stardust…

What’s In Your Robot?

Robots come in all shapes and all sizes, doing everything from assembling cars to vacuuming your floor.   Some are a blur of complex motions while others don't appear to do much of anything at all. There are robots that don't look or act very different from Humans. In the last 50 years robots have leaped from being fantasy ("Run Will…

Habitability: The Argument Of Life

Or, Star Trek to NASA: you've found my Horta! What is life?  We used to think we had a good answer for that.  Recently we thought there were a handful of chemicals that were necessary for life, among them, Phosphorus.   Phosphorus is found throughout any living body - bones, cell walls, energy transport, proteins, even DNA.  In fact it is…

BUT Can the Commercial Sector do Space?

With the recent demise of the ARES program, we are left without an institutional solution for accessing  space. Not just returning to the Moon, etc, but maintaining our presence in orbit (ISS) without relying on someone else's technology for transportation.  The cancellation of that program leaves a staggering hole in our plans for exploring space over the next 20 years. …

Roving in Alameda: Rocky at the Hornet

Consider this a retweet of sorts... Rocky Rover, a JPL-NASA roving robot, will be on display at the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, starting tomorrow. Our Mars Rover exhibit will be debuting this Saturday, 9/18, at 1pm. We will have guest speakers from NASA Ames, The Mars Society, and our Apollo curator. Thank you for your help. More information can…

Houston…. the Falcon has Flown!

Last week something remarkable happened. I'm not talking about the UFO sighted over Brisbane (...or am I?)  Last week Spacex successfully orbited the first successful commercial attempt to launch such a device. Wind River is proud to be a part of this historic endeavor.It's hard to convey how exciting this is.  This represents a HUGE step for mankind, a transition…

Radioactive Telepresence

How timely!  A couple of months ago the discussion started - "will unmanned vehicles make a transition into civilian use".  I've been taking the stance that since we're talking vehicles - not just aircraft but all forms of non-stationary robot, that it is inevitable.  Even with aircraft I believe it is inevitable, though it may take a little longer for…