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Wind River’s VxWorks Powers Mars Science Laboratory Rover


Wind River congratulates NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on the successful landing of the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity, powered by Wind River technology. Curiosity, which landed on Mars at approximately 10:31pm PDT, August 5, 2012, is the most complex robotic interplanetary probe ever designed. It is running on Wind River’s industry-leading real-time operating system (RTOS), VxWorks.

Curiosity will investigate whether Mars has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, and assess Mars’ habitability for future human exploration. VxWorks plays a central role in this historic operation by providing the core operating system for the spacecraft control system – from the second the rocket left Earth on November 26, 2011, until completion of the mission.

Curiosity relied on VxWorks for the complex landing sequence called EDL (entry, descent and landing), which is being described as “seven minutes of terror” due to the absolute precision required for the spacecraft to survive the landing. While on Mars, Curiosity will depend on VxWorks to perform mission-critical tasks, such as ground operations control, data collection, and Mars-to-Earth communication relay.

Wind River has an extensive heritage of achievements in space working with NASA JPL, dating back to 1994, when VxWorks launched into space on the Clementine Moon probe. This was followed by the Mars Pathfinder Mission, which made VxWorks the first commercial operating system to go to Mars. Wind River technology also operates within the Mars Exploration Rovers and Stardust spacecraft, among others.

“Wind River congratulates NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the successful landing of Curiosity on Mars, a groundbreaking milestone for space exploration worldwide,” said Ken Klein, president, Wind River. “For more than two decades, Wind River’s reliable and secure software has served as a key foundational technology for aerospace organizations globally, and we are extremely proud to continue our legacy as a technology provider for NASA JPL’s space programs.”

Since its inception in 1981, Wind River has been a trusted advisor in the development of aerospace and defense products. The company’s technology has successfully enabled countless products in the reaches of our universe, including CIRA’s FTB-1 reusable unmanned spacecraft, Iridium Communications’ in-orbit satellite constellation, and the European Space Agency’s PROBA satellite, among others.

To learn more about Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity, visit

For additional information on the role of Wind River technology in Curiosity, including a case study and video, visit

To learn more about Wind River’s aerospace solutions, visit

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