On a clear night you can look up into the sky and see a little red planet — the ninth from the sun — called Mars. Somewhere up there, are two explorer machines, called rovers, sent up by NASA.
Unless you work for NASA (or you have a really, really powerful telescope that the rest of the world needs to know about), you can’t see the rovers. Nor will you see that the space agency is now using Amazon Web Services to power the vehicles — that is, to run custom software to plan the rovers’ daily activities.
How cool! The cloud comes to Mars.
An article I read said NASA’s The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which developed the software (called Maestro), was motivated to move to the cloud because of the cloud’s pay-as-you-go structure.
Another factor was the success that other NASA departments have had experimenting with using the cloud. For example, NASA has developed its own internal cloud, Nebula, and will soon make the platform available for all federal agencies to use via its NASA Cloud Services.
I found it kind of ironic reading about NASA’s rover project and its embrace of the cloud. Ironic meaning that there seems to be less reticence about using the cloud in outer space than there sometimes is on earth.
The other thought I had was that for such an important application, I hope that NASA is using some sort of method to monitor the performance of its cloud provider!