Article: NASA’s next lunar rover will run open-source software

Code, Hardware, Open Manufacturing, Open Software, Open Source

NASA’s next lunar rover will run open-source software

In 2023, NASA will launch VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover), which that will trek across the surface of the moon and hunt for water ice that could one day be used to make rocket fuel. The rover will be armed with the best instruments and tools that NASA can come up with: wheels that can spin properly on lunar soil, a drill that’s able to dig into extraterrestrial geology, hardware that can survive 14 days of a lunar night when temperatures sink to ˗173 °C.

But while much of VIPER is one of a kind, custom-made for the mission, much of the software that it’s running is open-source, meaning it’s available for use, modification, and distribution by anyone for any purpose. If it’s successful, the mission may be about more than just laying the groundwork for a future lunar colony—it may also be an inflection point that causes the space industry to think differently about how it develops and operates robots.

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