The Hardware of Curiosity

Written by John Ponio    Tuesday, 07 August 2012 17:35

Mars Curiosity Rover

We've just about all heard the news: Curosity, the "science lab on wheels," landed safely on Mars and is now roving around the Martian surface. While that's fine and dandy (actually quite amazing), the question on a lot of people's minds is: "What hardware is it using?" It's a robot, so it obviously has to have a computer on it. It also has to have control software so we can operate it from our home 250 million miles away. So what's inside?

I don't want to steal the thunder from ExtremeTech, who is my source for all of this, but I'd like to at least look at the computer hardware. You might think it's running top-of-the-line Intel processors, but you'd be wrong. Instead it's running an over ten-year-old RAD750 board, which is pretty popular in space right now. All of the computer components are on one board. The CPU is a PowerPC 750, which is a PowerPC processor that runs at 200MHz. There's 2GB of flash storage for the computers needs before it transmits the data back to Earth, and it has 256MB of RAM. There are two of these RAD750 boards on board, in case one should fail, but these things can take a beating, with temperature swings from -50 to 70C and with radiation levels of 1000 gray

You can read more about the hardware, software, communications, and all of the other interesting stuff on the Curiosity here. Image credit goes to the same link.