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26 articles

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…

More Autonomy In The Science Sector

In a continuing thread of discussions on LinkedIn, we've been talking about robotic craft moving from military use into more common civilian use.  Though many have taken the discussion to be focused on flight, I've deliberately taken a much wider view, defining the word "vehicle" to mean "anything that moves".  By that definition, the Roomba Vacuum is an unmanned autonomous…

Launch Day: Solar Dynamics Observatory

This morning the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the first mission of the Living With A Star program, successfully launched this morning.  It was a beautiful launch, covered on NASA TV and the SDO web site. SDO's mission is to chronograph the Sun over the life of the probe, making a detailed record of it's variability, so we may understand more about how the…

Quit Bugging Me: Cell Death.

You're working from home.  You trigger a remote transfer - a single update file is sent via a standard transfer protocol.  Part way through the file transfer, the cell phone goes down - actually - all the phones connected to that cell concentrator... go down.  This would be a bad thing to happen.  It actually did happen in a laboratory…

Quit Bugging Me: Memory Leak!

A perrenial question arrises... "Did I find a memory leak in the shell?  See what it does?"This question naturally arises after a customer has been debugging a while, and runs short on memory for some allocation.  They check into it, and they find that when they call certain shell functions, they find memory missing after the call.Here are typical examples…

A Legacy Of Titans

PASADENA, Calif. – NASA's Galileo spacecraft began what would become a 14-year odyssey of exploration 20 years ago this Sunday, Oct. 18. Galileo was humanity's first emissary to orbit a planet in the outer solar system – Jupiter. (Read More) 20 years ago I was just starting to work with a remarkably small, very unix-like kernel from this *tiny* company in Emeryville…

Quit bugging me: surprise NaN!

You've got a complex system.  There are dozens of tasks, a handful of interrupt routines.  Your system runs fine, for hours or sometimes days on end.  The loading on your system is somewhat "bursty" in that average loading is only about 20% of peak load, and peaks only happen once every hour for less than 5 seconds.  Every once in…