Hardware and Software of Curiosity Mars Rover
Hard drives hold some of the most valuable information to us, and most DriveFish customers can attest to how fragile they can be. So you can imagine a hard drive in a computer being sent to Mars would have to be able to withstand extreme conditions far beyond those of your average computer room.
First of all, everything has to stay working because there is obviously no one up there to fix it. Curiosity’s sensitive electronic parts must withstand the coldness of space, radiation extremes, impact events, electric overload, and the killer of many hard drives on Earth – dust. These elements are all present in extreme forms on Mars, a planet with very little atmosphere for protection compared to our home planet.
So with this in mind, it makes the hardware components of the on-board computer less to scoff at. The specifications are barely on par with decade old home computers, including a PowerPC 750 clocked around 200 MHz, and 256 MB of DRAM with 2 GB of flash storage to store video and data before being transmitted to Earth. But the full computer suite had to be specially designed to withstand the elements of space and the Martian surface.
What happens when the software needs to be upgraded? No problem, we’ll take care of it remotely! Yes, the software in Curiosity was upgraded after reaching the planet’s surface to be geared towards day to day activities on the red planet. So even if the computer in Curiosity doesn’t seem as top of the line as you might guess, it should be an understatement to say it is still an impressive feat of technology.