Linux set for Mars landing

Single workstation controls destiny of space probe

The control centre is ready and a big Christmas celebration is expected when, or if, the UK's most ambitious scientific project, the Beagle 2 Mars Lander, makes landfall on Christmas Day.

In true British low-budget fashion, a single Linux-based workstation at the Lander Operations Control Centre (LOCC) is being used to send commands and receive vital data from Beagle 2.

The diminutive LOCC, part of the new British National Space Centre (BNSC) in Leicester, is now fully operational. It has already sent the commands that will be triggered at various times during Beagle 2's descent.

The workstation uses Spacecraft Control Operating System (SCOS) command and control software which sits on top of Linux. Two more Linux-based systems are available as back-up.

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