NASA and free software: a promising story

space shuttle nasa

La NASA He has been using Linux and open source for a long time in many of his projects, as we have told you in some LxA articles. This agency dependent on the American federal government is well known to all for its space programs, as well as its aeronautical projects, within which there are thousands and thousands of lines of open source ...

Here you can know some of those projects they are using this code inside. And the best of all is that they are increasing ...


NASA uses supercomputers that use GNU / Linux as an operating system, in addition to other free software or open source projects. These great machines have names like Pleiades, Electra, Aitken, Merope, and Endeavor, located at the Ames Research Center. In fact, Pleiades is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world according to the Top500 list.

This supercomputer has 241.108 CPU cores, and 211.968 GB of memory. And all that orchestrated by the operating system SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).

In addition to that, NASA has started one of the most interesting programs today at the space level. Is about Artemis. It is intended to establish a sustainable colony on the Moon, and for this they are using a computer system for simulation that uses Linux.

The same happens with another of its divisions, such as its project Center for Climate Simulation, which uses a series of clusters that also work thanks to the Linux kernel and other open source projects.

Other projects

In addition to these supercomputers, NASA also has other projects and programs that are supported by Linux and other software packages. open source software. Even NASA itself has developed a wide catalog of open source projects, already having more than 500 of them on sites like GitLab and 324 repositories on GitHub.

If you want to know some of them, here you go some highlights:

  • OpenMCT- is a data visualization framework for next-generation operations. It is web-based, for desktop and mobile. It is used as a data visualization tool in support of multiple missions at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Ames Research Center, such as supporting the development of lunar rover mission concepts. All under an Apaceh 2.0 license.
  • Worldwind- Another of NASA's most popular open source projects. It enables developers to create interactive displays of geographic information of the globe in 3D. Organizations around the world use it to monitor weather patterns, terrain, track vehicles, analyze geospatial data, etc.
  • ISS: The International Space Station, as we already indicated in LxA, changed its Microsoft Windows XP systems to Debian GNU / Linux. These systems play an important role in the scientific laboratory and test bed on this huge artificial satellite. Additionally, astronauts on board would also use Linux-based laptops, and open source projects specific to the ISS are being developed. For example, Astrobee Robot Software.
  • CubeSat- A project to enable Ka-band precipitation radar technologies on low-cost, rapid-response platforms. It was launched on the ELaNa-23 mission aboard the Cygnus CRS-9 en route to the ISS, where it was deployed on July 13, 2018 through the JEM airlock. In addition, Linux-based avionics systems are also used for this mission.

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