Ubuntu has been spotted aboard the International Space Station and it seems that it was used to control a rover back on Earth.
Astronaut Alexander Gerst has published a photo that he took on board the ISS (International Space Station), bragging with the fact that he controlled a rover back on Earth and with his brand new “Rover driving licence.”
Alexander Gerst is an ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and he is currently onboard the ISS. He's also a geophysicist and volcanologist, and now he seems to be a certified Rover driver. The image that he published on Twitter and Google+ got a lot of people interested, including Linux users.
Like in any other scientific endeavors, NASA, ISS, ESA, and pretty much everyone on this planet involved in research is using open source software. Especially on the ISS, the astronauts need systems that they can rely on and nothing is better than a Linux distribution.
NASA is certainly not a stranger to Ubuntu, as we saw just a few days ago. They have used it in a mission over the Antarctic, so it's not really a surprise that an astronaut aboard the International Space Station is doing the same thing.
“After an early morning weather briefing and takeoff from the sea ice runway at the National Science Foundation's McMurdo Station, the NASA P-3 flew a survey that took researchers across the Ross Sea basin and back. The purpose of this mission was to set up a pair of parallel lines known as a flux gate that scientists can use to study how ice moves out through the Ross Sea,” said NASA regarding that mission over the Antarctic.
On the other hand, the German astronaut pointed out his driver's license and the fact that ISS members can control rovers that are down on the planet. That should come handy when we arrive on Mars.
“Remote-controlled a ESA planetary rover on Earth today. No new life forms discovered, but received new qualification,” said Alexander Gerst in a Google+ post.
The interesting thing is that ESA is usually using openSUSE, but in this case the Linux distribution used was Ubuntu. It's very likely that many more other Linux-based operating systems are being used. Fermi, for example, is employing Scientific Linux, which is based on Red Hat.
The Linux community has a habit of spotting Linux distributions in the most interesting places, but there are very few that can rival with the edge of space.