IBM Rational DOORS and the Mars Curiosity Rover
Curiosity: The Next Mars Rover (artist's concept)
For all the technological advances of the space age, including the landing missions to Mars, we still haven't answered one of our very oldest questions about the solar system: Is there, or was there ever, life on the Red Planet? On August 6, 2012, the Mars Curiosity rover made its way to the surface of the planet to get closer to an answer, with its mission to explore the possibility that microbial life was or is still present in the upper layers of the Martian crust.
IBM Rational software has played a role in this mission. In December, the Orange County Rational User Group hosted a very well received event called ‘Rocket Science with Rational.’ In one session at the event, speakers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) presented the story of how IBM Rational software was used in developing the Mars Curiosity Rover. In February, the same presentation was given to more than 200 attendees through a Global Rational User community webcast.
It was a great way to demonstrate how software tools were used in an environment with all sorts of unusual limitations. The webcast offered a fascinating look at these issues, along with photos of the rover in action, discussions and views of landing site considerations and some history about the rover program evolution over the last decade from the JPL insider perspective. It's all very inspiring and I can only imagine it will spark the imaginations of quite a few practitioners, not to mention lay science fans and budding explorers.
The event was permissible as a live event only, so no replay or slides are available. But don’t despair if you missed it. IBM has just published a case study on the story, hot off the press this week, and you can see photos and conceptual drawings from JPL here.
I encourage you to join your local Raitonal user group or the Global Rational User community as a member at large. Meeting have featured so many great stories already and there will be many more to come. Maybe you have a story the membership would love to hear about, too.