I feel like I fell off the face of the earth!

…which actually would be awesome!  If only stress could actually drive me iMeg-spacesuitnto orbit, then I would have more space hours than most ISS residents :)  (in reality, filling in the face of a cardboard cutout is about as close as I'm going to get, at least for now)!

The last few weeks have been CRAZY.  Busy at work, busy at home, and especially busy with school!  The last few weeks of any semester are always stressful, but with two grad classes this semester on top of everything else, it's been particularly difficult.   I had based my decision to take two classes on the assumption that I'd get ahead of the game this semester, but now I'm pretty sure I will take a break this summer therefore leaving my average at ~1 per semester.  Oh well…

Anyway, I just finished a "collaborative" assignment on software fault protection architecture for my Software Reliability and Safety course.  My group and I looked into the software architecture of various Mars missions.  I researched the Mars Climate Orbiter (infamous SI to English units SNAFU), and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Exploration Rovers were also discussed.  This and other assignments for my Systems Engineering courses have been very interesting because they have introduced me to the "big picture" of space missions.  Whereas my previous education has been more hardware-focused, the software aspect is crucial and really a main driver to mission success.          

Software architecture is closely tied to the concept of operations for
the mission, and to the system architecture.  When it comes down to it, baseline mission success for a spacecraft is to gather desired data.  All physical aspects of the vehicle enable this data collection, but the bottom line is that if there is no telemetry, no data, no information sent back, then the mission is a failure.  

Anyway, our paper was more a literature survey than anything else with some discussion on the specifics of the fault protection architecture and how fault protection capabilities could improve the system.  It would be interesting to try to put a "price" on a successful software architecture (or how much it would cost to improve by some increment), but that is a difficult question to answer.  Maybe I'll get around to it soon … 🙂

Download SSW689-SurveyofNASAMarsExpnMsn-final


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