Engineers test new software for NASA's Mars Curiosity mission


John Wirth: Hi, my name is John Wirth and this is your Building Curiosity Update.

I am the MSL ATLO electrical lead, which means I'm the 'head sparky.'

'Sparky' means we do all the electrical integration. We verify that the connectors are meeting correctly.

We do all that kind of stuff.

We're asked quite often why we have to hook up our wire to this ground lug.

And what this does is this bleeds our electrical charge on our body to the earth.

The rover has sensitive electronics in it, so if we got close with a charge, it might damage it.

This just ensures that we're down to a zero charge when we work on the rover.

So what we're doing today is we're getting ready for system tests.

We load some flight software, which is the 'brain' -- software in your brain -- trying to tell this thing that hey, I'm going to simulate going through launch, cruise, EDL and surface operations.

So what the guys are doing now is they're electrically connecting up each of the vehicles together so it thinks it's mechanically hooked together, which tells the rover or makes the rover think that it's going to go through all its mission phases to ensure the flight software and the electronics will actually work when we get to Mars.

We're one year away from launch, and so right now is a real busy time for us because we're trying to prepare the hardware to get going to Florida next year.

So right now everybody can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel cause we're getting close to launch so everybody is excited about making things happen right now.

This has been your Building Curiosity Update, and I'm John Wirth.
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