Stack OverflowHave you dealt with space hardening?
[+44] [0] Tim Post
[2009-02-23 07:15:56]
[ c memory ]

I am very eager to study best practices when it comes to space hardening. For instance, I've read (though I can't find the article any longer) that some core parts of the Mars rovers did not use dynamic memory allocation, in fact it was forbidden. I've also read that old fashioned core memory may be preferable in space.

I was looking at some of the projects associated with the Google Lunar Challenge and wondering what it would feel like to get code on the moon, or even just into space. I know that space hardened boards offer some sanity in such a harsh environment, however I'm wondering (as a C programmer) how I would need to adjust my thinking and code if I was writing something that would run in space?

I think the next few years might show more growth in private space companies, I'd really like to at least be somewhat knowledgeable regarding best practices.

Can anyone recommend some books, offer links to papers on the topic or (gasp) even a simulator that shows you what happens to a program if radiation, cold or heat bombards a board that sustained damage to its insulation? I think the goal is keeping humans inside of a space craft (as far as fixing or swapping stuff) and avoiding missions to fix things.

Furthermore, if the board maintains some critical system, early warnings seem paramount.

How does one gain experience in this through testing and trial & error (barring the launch of your own personal satellite?)

(1) +1 Good question. Such thinking is also useful more generally for embedded devices. - starblue
(1) I just have to say that this is an awesome question. I hope we have some SO members who can provide interesting answers. - David Dean
(1) I've sent e-mails to space-x and others asking them to join SO and help answer this. If anyone knows anyone at NASA, now is the time to e-mail them. Likewise, maybe you know a retired egineer? I'm not going to close this any time soon. - Tim Post
(2) Worth noting that the "forbidden dynamic memory allocation" isn't unique to space probes, but in fact fairly common for any tightly constrained embedded hardware (even handheld video games). - Crashworks