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Five Ways NASA is Using Linux OS to Run its Space Program

Five Ways NASA is Using Linux OS to Run its Space Program

Published March 12th, 2013 by Gustavo Fring

nasa linux

NASA spends billions of dollars in technology and on computer technology. Yet they still seem to have a need for free open-source technology – that of Linux. It turns out that NASA has different uses for Linux including that of storing data sent from the satellites, spacecrafts and giant telescopes. Aside from lowering technology costs and increasing scalability, the purpose in doing this lies in making certain research projects and data received at NASA available to the public and private sector, especially in ongoing research projects where both of these sectors are involved.

This open source cloud approach of NASA is in stark contrast to its other tech implementations. However, Kemp suggests it is only an opportunity for NASA to use Ubuntu as a free operating system to store some of its research data.

Where is It Used?

1. NASA uses open source Ubuntu to save data from satellites, distant spacecrafts and other scientific projects to servers and networking components. This information is stored here for later analysis and research. According to Chris Kemp, NASA’s CTO the project was developed to build science and research options that are low cost and easily scalable.

2. NASA also uses Linux in robotics as it has been used in projects like the Mars rover. It is Linux that helped NASA get this project off the ground.

3. Linux has also been present in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, for a number of years. Here they used Linux to help with projects relating to the construction of unmanned space flight and deep space exploration.

4. Linux has powered super computers for NASA for a number of years, and this technology is used to help the agency model flight missions, perform aerospace engineering tasks and climate research.

5. Amazingly enough, with all the different options available to NASA researchers, investigators, engineers and scientists, many choose to use Linux on their personal computers within their lab.

The Purpose

By using Linux, NASA hopes to benefit the public by enabling private industry reliant on NASA investments to make the already beneficial Linux better, establishing processes, policies and a corporate culture that will favor open source development. Hopefully this will shift open source from its one-way direction, only giving public access to the ability to offer final software products to allowing two-way collaboration in developing the platform. Additionally, the idea is to allow the public to assist in research and the development of NASA software use and development.

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