For those who are already past the Windows NT, XP, 7, 8 and 10 generations and may already be in Windows 11, it may seem surprising that we are still using machines running Windows 98. Moreover, in this case, it is not a forgotten CNC machine In the corner of a workshop, but it’s a spacecraft orbiting another planet.
The fact that Mars Express has been orbiting the Red Planet for nearly 19 years explains a lot of this. It started as the first serious interplanetary program of the European Space Agency and is currently the second oldest instrument orbiting a distant world after NASA’s Mars Odyssey.
Even the entire satellite was unaffected by the trick, and two decades later the long-stalled operating system of the last century was scrapped, but only the instrument called MARSIS, a radar that can see five kilometers under the Earth’s surface. Mars has a 40-meter antenna.
Installation of the device made by Italian scientists has been delayed for years by the hiccups of the huge antennas, but it seems that they are only now beginning to get into the scientific work. In 2018, with the help of MARSIS, lakes were found at a depth of one and a half kilometers below the surface, around the southern, ice-covered corner of Mars. In 2020, it was already known that there are four stable water reservoirs, the largest of which is 30 kilometers in diameter, and the smaller one is a few kilometers away.
We faced many challenges in improving the performance of MARSIS. Mostly because the software was designed twenty years ago in the Microsoft Windows 98 development environment
Carlo Nina, an employee at Enginium who works with ESA, noted this.
Changing the program would be a huge step forward. The high-resolution recordings of the previous technology quickly fill the memory of the on-board computer.
By ignoring unnecessary data, MARSIS can work five times longer with the new software and clear up much more space. With the new software, we can study these regions faster and in more detail and look for additional sources of water on Mars. Basically, it’s like having a brand new tool on Mars Express 20 years after its launch
– summed up Andrea Sechetti, a faculty member at the Italian Institute for Astrophysical Research.
“Social media evangelist. Baconaholic. Devoted reader. Twitter scholar. Avid coffee trailblazer.”