Sep 03, 2009 / books
iPhone: 1, NASA Phoenix Mars Lander: 0

Mars Lander

I'm reading a book called Beautiful Data, where there are various people talking about how they've worked with data sets. These include interesting stories from NASA, Yahoo!, the guys that made a RadioHead video, and tons more.

The book is very interesting, in fact, I think it should be called Interesting Data since it's not all about how the data is displayed.

I'm still reading, but the NASA Phoenix Mars Lander story is particularly interesting; It talks in depth about the hardware and software of the lander craft.

I expected some pretty hefty hardware in a ultra-high-tech, 2008 mars lander. Wouldn't you? But no no no. Apparently the Phoenix has only 10MB or RAM, and a lowly 20Mhz CPU. WTF!?!? This is a craft sent to Mars to help us understand if the planet might have been capable of sustaining life, and all NASA could do was send up something with less processing grunt than a shitty mobile phone!

  • Apple iPhone:
    • 400Mhz CPU
    • 128MB RAM
  • Phoenix High Tech Mars Lander
    • 20Mhz CPU
    • 10MB RAM

In all fairness, the Phoenix RAM and CPU components have the edge when it comes to coping with high energy cosmic rays, crazy levels of heat, and radiation. I wouldn't bank on my iPhone making it out of the earth's atmosphere and surviving on a freezing planet surface whilst collecting and beaming data for months.

Jokes aside, the book is a really interesting read. Enjoy.

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