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To Infinity and Beyond: Linux, Open Source Go to Mars

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NASA's Ingenuity helicopter drone.

The Perseverance rover will explore Mars using the self-flying Ingenuity helicopter drone.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Perseverance rover will explore Mars with the self-flying Ingenuity helicopter drone, using Linux and NASA-built software based on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)'s open source F' framework.

F' facilitates rapid development and implementation of spaceflight and other embedded software applications.

It features an architecture that decomposes flight software into discrete elements with well-defined interfaces, a C++ framework that enables capabilities like message queues and threads, and modeling tools for specifying components and links and automatically generating code.

JPL's Timothy Canham said the F'-based software used in Ingenuity is "kind of an open source victory because we're flying an open source operating system and an open source flight software framework and flying commercial parts that you can buy off the shelf if you wanted to do this yourself someday."

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