How open source brings the universe together – General – Services – Software


Open source technology makes industries like exploration cheaper.
photo by Luca R to Unsplash

In 2023, NASA will launch its Voltailes Investigating Polar Exploration Rover or “VIPER”, which will cross the moon in search of water ice that will one day be used to make rocket fuel.

Most recently, the Ingenuity Mars helicopter left Earth for Mars in July 2020 – a milestone that marked the first powered flight to another planet. What do these space adventures have in common, beyond the obvious? They were made possible by the power of open source technology.

Open source technology, although it is a complex concept to explain in so many words, is simply software whose source code is shared and made available to the public. It is increasingly used and produced by global technological behemoths, as well as at the level of SMEs and is expected to reach $ 66 billion by 2026. Recently, open source has come to the fore, or quite literally to space, of interplanetary travel.

Some of the world’s largest space agencies, such as NASA, have been using open source technology in R&D projects for nearly two decades. Yet, as space innovation and exploration intensifies, with commercial launch providers like SpaceX and RocketLabs democratizing access to space, the role open source technology plays in bringing the world closer together. The universe is becoming more and more relevant.

There are several main reasons why the democratization of space exploration is increasingly driven by the powers of open source technology: open source makes it cheaper, it enables collaboration, fosters endless possibilities, and it announces a better future.

Open source technology makes exploration cheaper

One of the most immediate thoughts that comes to mind and one of the big obstacles to more space exploration is cost. Building the technology capable of launching into space, ensuring it reaches its destination, and accomplishing a complex set of tasks is an expensive exercise. This is made more expensive when using proprietary or closed source software. Open source, on the other hand, is a less expensive solution, as codes do not need to be built from scratch, which saves money and resources, which in turn can be diverted to the final exploration itself.

it’s collaborative

Open source fosters greater transnational collaboration because it is free and open to others by design. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, the first powered flight to an alternate planet, which was made possible by open source software such as SciPy, Linux and F Prime, benefited from contributions from 12,000 different developers (GitHub). Open source is a poignant real-life reflection of the saying “teamwork makes dreams work”. If the software were to be written by an individual or a single company, the results would be slower to see. Open source provides a means by which people from all walks of life and from all walks of life can impart their skills to solve complex problems. It is this diversity that in turn makes possible almost unfathomable human endeavors, such as traveling seven months to the Red Planet.

Endless possibilities

Open source technology has already changed the world. The Android operating system, for example, holds nearly 73% of the market share due to its open source nature, with parent company Google making deals to supply the software to various hardware vendors. This contrasts sharply with the biggest competitor Apple with its closed-source IOS system, which has a market share of around 26%.

With the ability to be adopted and worked on by many, how do these possibilities translate into space? Essentially, this has allowed open source to be recognized as a safe, efficient, and cost-effective method of advancing space technology. Several NASA groups use open source to encode robotic intelligence, while other groups use it to fuel satellite activity. Additionally, as spaceflight continues to become cheaper and collaboration allows technology to proliferate and improve, space exploration will undoubtedly rely more and more on this technology.

It announces a bright future

Closer to home, Instaclustr has partnered with the University of Canberra to deliver open source software training and certification, as well as research and development. With the aim of enhancing Australia’s professional skills, this partnership will energize the work of individuals in the industry, which has great potential to translate into what the world does in space.

Nonetheless, the endless possibilities are only worth what they can do for the human race. This investment in training and R&D only reaffirms our belief that open source technology paves the way for a better future, allowing us to acquire and share better knowledge and understanding of the dark depths of the universe. . The tools we use to explore and observe the universe around us are as critical as the spirits that use them. This was seen with the invention of the telescope, our understanding of lenses and all the further improvements to the telescopes with each of the iterations of Galileo Galilei. Sharing knowledge, tools and processes can be a catalyst that greatly expands our understanding of the world and it is the open source philosophy that greatly amplifies this sharing.

Ben bromhead is CTO in Canberra open source technology startup, Instacluster.


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