Why Designing a Mars Rover Like Curiosity Just Got a Lot Easier By Tim Maly

MSL Rover NX CAD model

You’ve all seen the artist renditions. This is what Curiosity looks like to an engineer.

A few minutes into our interview last Thursday, I ask Tim Nichols, managing director of Global Aerospace, Defenses and Marine Industries at Siemens, if he was nervous about the Curiosity’s fate on Sunday. “Of course I am,” he says with a laugh, “We all know about missions to Mars — they’re complex.” None moreso than Curiosity’s elaborate landing sequence, designed to get the SUV-sized robot down safely.

He needn’t have worried. Late Sunday night, the rover successfully set down on the Martian landscape, overseen by a tense room of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineers and watched by so many people here on Earth that all of NASA’s websites crashed. Like the rest of us, Nichols was glued to his screen. Unlike the rest of us, Nichols gets to say he had a hand in it. His company’s software designed Curiosity.

Curiosity is much larger than her unexpectedly long-lived predecessors, Spirit and Opportunity. This meant that she couldn’t just land bundled inside airbags like the smaller rovers.

Instead, the mission executed a complex series of maneuvers to eject the robot from its capsule and lower it to the ground, via a rocket-powered sky crane in a sequence of events that NASA called the Seven Minutes of Terror.

Curiosity was designed by the JPL at the California Institute of Technology. When it came time to coordinate the enormous team of designers and engineers that built Curiosity, the capsule, and the sky crane, JPL turned to Siemens. They needed to design the robot (relatively) cheaply and they needed to design it fast — the launch window for missions to Mars comes once every two years. If you miss the deadline, there’s a long wait ahead.
MSL Capsule with Rover NX CAE thermal model

If you squint, you can see Curiosity and the sky crane folded up together in the capsule.

Luckily, Siemens had developed software suited to this sort of project. They call it Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).

One of the costliest parts of creating a new physical product is building and testing prototypes. With PLM’s robust suite of simulators and version tracking, you can avoid a lot of physical prototyping — saving both time and money, and speeding up the development process. In essence, PLM turns the physical engineering of a product into a process that looks more and more like designing code.

PLM runs on a laptop, connected to a central asset manager, called the Team Center. Engineers can check out parts of the project, work on their problems and assignments, and then check it back in to the main branch. This allows for a lot of concurrent design work. “In the past, engineering teams would be somewhat isolated by discipline,” says Nichols, “The overall leadership recognized that they needed to bring all the groups together.”

This is a far cry from past projects, which would be designed as a series of handoffs between teams. First the thermal profiles would be worked out, then the aerodynamics, on down the line. Propagating changes between teams could become a nightmare. PLM changed all of that, Nichols says, giving the team the ability to “compress the schedule and … do many more design iterations.”
MSL NX CAD Exploded view of seperation stages

With luck, this is the only exploded view of the Mars lander that we’ll ever see.

If this sounds a lot like software engineering, especially the open source variety, it’s because it is. There’s a version control system, the ability to check code in and out of the system, and a set of test suites that allow you check the performance of your part of the module in relation to the whole. By keeping the objects in software for as long as possible, you can treat them like software, with all of the speed and flexibility that this implies.

Nichols says their suite of tools has been used to design everything from golf clubs — “Golf clubs are pretty sophisticated, though they haven’t helped my game.” — to aircraft carriers. Looking ahead, he predicts an increasing incidence of distributed international teams of contributors working on a project.
“Global virtual collaboration and engineering is really the future,” he says. “We want to see more of that.”

But first, Curiosity had to make it to Mars. “We all have our fingers crossed,” he said on Thursday. You can uncross them now, Mr Nichols.

Large Menu Icons

Menu-Icons.com announces the release of Large Menu Icons, a royalty-free library of stock menu images for application developers and web designers. The new set includes 398 icons drawn in matching style, color and gamut. The Large Menu Icons collection sells for $49.00.

About Large Menu Icons

Large Menu Icons is the perfect choice for busy application and Web site developers. This collection of stock icons with matching properties such as style and colors, can be used in various projects and scripts, as well as on portals, blogs, forums, and web sites. Large Menu Icons will make an application, blog or applet look modern and consistent throughout. All icons in the Large Menu Icons collection are royalty-free. The entire collection is immediately available and comes with an online preview.

What’s Inside

The Large Menu Icons collection contains images representing all sides of the application work. Some of the icons in the set are: open, close, edit, validate, time, clock, error, OK, data, computer, archive, people, user, girl, man, admin, horse, car and more.


Large Menu Icons
Technically, the set includes icons in a number of formats, sizes, color resolutions, and image styles. Every icon from the library comes in sizes of 16×16, 24×24, 32×32, 48×48 and 64×64 pixels. Normal, disabled, and highlighted versions are included for every icon. 256-color and semi-transparent True Color icons are supplied. Large Menu Icons are delivered in Windows Icon (ICO), Bitmap (BMP), GIF and PNG formats for instant integration into any systems. The entire Large Menu Icons collection is available for only $49.00. Source images are also available in SVG and AI formats for an additional payment.

Menu-Icons.com also plans to release a number of new original icon sets including Lumina Menu Icons, Windows Menu Icons, New Menu Icons, Cool Menu Icons, Win8 menu Icons, Vista Menu Icons, Mac Menu Icons, Android Tab Icons, Linux Menu Icons, Nokia Menu Icons, iPhone Menu Icons, Mobile Menu Icons.

About the Company

Menu-Icons.com offers thousands of icons in the most difficult small resolutions. PDA and mobile developers and designers can enhance their software with smooth, perfectly rendered icons in the most convenient resolutions. Menu-Icons.com are available in all sizes common to desktop and mobile applications for mobile phones, communicators, and desktop applications. All icons offered by Menu Icons are royalty-free, ready-made and instantly available.

Apple iPhone vs. Android: the Choice is Yours

Android or iPhone? The discussion continues. At the time the iPhone was first released, there was really no competition. The iPhone was playing in a class of its own. Early Android phones were mediocre: slow UI response, lags here and there, and the overall “do-it-yourself” approach just didn’t with consumers.

iphone icons
Today, the situation has changed. With newest iPhone being a superb device and a luxurious system, the newest Androids leave little to be desired. Today’s Androids have no UI lags, feature most of the same apps in the Google Play store, and went away with the do-it-yourself, LEGO style approach. Today, choosing one phone over another is more of a personal preference. Let’s try to discover what’s best about going the Apple route, and what advantages the Android way can bring.

Hardware and Models

With Apple, you have a limited choice of only several models. Or, rather, you’re limited to just a single current model in several versions that, honestly, differ very little. There are a few older models you can get from the used market, but that’s about it. “You can have any color as long as it’s black”.

Android phones, on the other hand, come in many shapes, models and colors. Different manufacturers use entirely different hardware. Different screens, CPUs, memory. Vastly different quality and usability. Getting an Android phone will require you to do a research on what’s available, while you can’t go wrong with any iPhone you can afford. Are you a techno geek or a gadget guy? Look for an Android phone you like best. Others will be served by Apple.


The newest generation of iPhones has a wonderful Retina display. These super high resolution displays will render your apps, icons and photos so smooth it’s hard to believe. Kudos to Apple: they made one of the best screens ever.

Android phones ship with all kinds of displays. Some of the better ones can approach iPhones in pixel density, but software integration is still lagging. Many applications are still using low-resolution icons and images designed to be shown on lower-resolution screens. When choosing an Android phone, you will have to look really carefully to buy a model with a good display. If you’re not friends with numbers, icon resolutions, angles of view and technical specs, just get an iPhone for the best screen ever.

Built-in Software and UI

An iPhone is an iPhone. They’re all the same. One operating system, one user interface, the same set of pre-installed apps, same icons. You can customize it by moving stuff around and choosing a few icons on your own, but there’s only so much you’re allowed to do.

Androids are available in all sorts of flavor. Different firmware and dozens of OS versions, builds and codenames. Different sets of icons for exactly the same app. Completely different shells and launchers. Extensively customizable: you can make Android phones look like whatever you want (and it’s not all about custom icons) – but you must know what you’re doing. With such a broad variety, some devices are simply better as in easier to use, more robust and working more reliable than others. If making your very own custom environment is fun for you, by all means get the Android. If you like your phone working straight out of the box, get an iPhone and begin using it right away.

Maintenance and Upgrades

iPhones don’t don’t accept memory cards. You’ll be stuck with the amount of memory you originally bought. If you outgrow your iPhone, you’ll have to buy another iPhone, bringing more dough to Apple.

Most but not all Android devices come with a microSD slot, allowing you to put more memory when you need it. With microSD cards getting cheaper every year, you will be better off in the long run if you get an Android.

With iPhones, you can’t even replace a battery. If your battery dies in some years (they all do; lithium batteries won’t hold charge after 3-4 years), you’ll be mailing your iPhone to Apple for a “major repair” (more dough to Apple), or be on the market for a new iPhone (even more money to Apple).

While some Android phones use similarly user irreplaceable batteries, most devices are easy: just lift the cover and put a new battery in. A new battery will set you back a few dollars, allowing you to postpone the purchase of another phone some more years.


Android phones are cheaper to buy and cheaper to upgrade and maintain. They’re more extensible and customizable. iPhones are perfect right out of the box, and offer one of the best usage experience ever. Which one to pick? The choice is yours.

Source: Apple iPhone vs. Android: the Epic Battle

Enter the world of icons and your apps will never be the same again

This set of icons is set to change your world if you are a programmer. Use the many icons on offer at this portal to give your application that extra edge, get the right mix of the business logic and the user interface.

What’s more important with a website, the business logic or the user interface? Try as you might, you would not be able to think of an adequate answer to this, fact is, that both of them are equally important. Getting the right mix between your UI and the back-end of the app is very important for any application to work well, as numerous software’s with great functionality but ordinary UIs have found to their peril.

Sometimes people just fail to realize the importance of a good user interface, those who do just do not have the required skill to develop these. To make your quandary worse are the high charges that designers charge for these developments. A UI takes a lot meticulous work as you have to develop it image by image.

Do not despair as now we have the perfect solution to make your task easier, be it icons for a windows tool bar, aero people icons, medical icons or anything else that you can possibly think of, anything that you application needs in terms of images is right here for your use. These images are brought to you in as many as 5 different sizes (though this may depend from pack to pack), and various colors, from black and white for your windows phone 7 icons for developers to 32 bit colors for aero people’s icons pack, aero business icons and some others.

Each and every image that you get has been crafted by professionals with specific attention to detail. These are amazingly descriptive and very appealing to your eyes. The best part is that you would not need to go to any other place for your image needs once you’ve been here. Using the images wisely and organizing them on the UI appropriately can very easily get together a front-end that is worthy of the business logic you’ve written.

The icons provided here are sure to catch the user’s eye with their amazing representation and the humorous undertones. An image in the aero people’s pack shows a business competitor who has a bull’s eye on him. Not only will you find new images for all the usual functions in these packs, they’ve been made to satisfy every creative instinct of yours. You can get icons for aliens, superman and spies alongside usual ones of salesmen, doctors and dentist. It is a myriad of colors that is sure to give new life to the user interface without making it look the slightest bit gaudy.

So take a look at these right now, download a demo if you want to try out a few first or buy them right now and deploy them this minute. Give your app a makeover.

All Toolbar Icons Bundle are Available in Various File Formats

Do you want to design best icons for your websites? Well, there are numbers of icons designs available through which you can decorate your website properly. All toolbar icons bundle is available in required file formats like 16×16, 20×20, 24×24, and 48×48 with 32 to 8 bit color depths. Also, you can avail these icons in various formats such as PNG, GIF, ICO, and BMP and three states highlighted, disabled, and normal. Using the all toolbar icons bundle, you can enhance your application appearance successfully.

These icons are designed to use in different operating system like windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android. These days, the icons are used by computer users, web designers, software developers, blogs creator, and forums creator. It is the best option to use these sorts of icons in different fields.  Now, you need to move for the online and search one of the best icons to use in your website. Every image generally comes in various states, color resolutions, sizes, as well as file formats that you can use or apply. Every icon in a collection generally comes in four sizes (16×16, 32×32, 24×24, as well as 48×48 pixels), three color depths (that is 16 colors, 256colors as well as 32bit True Color that is 16.7million colors with the transparency). Additionally, all the icons come in 3 states: highlighted and normal, disabled. All the icons are been supplied in Windows Icon, Bitmap, PNG and GIF file image formats.

Icon software generally requires uploading of the images to facilitate development of custom icons. But, range of the input options that are available differs a lot. Best software must accept various images and other files for best performance.

Classic Hardware Icons – Considered as Latest and Advance Designed Icons

Today, all users want to use latest and advance version icons which are properly designed and easy to access. If you are one of them, then Classic hardware icons are the best options for you. These sorts of icons are available in cool and outstanding designs through which you can get most amazing result through your task. You can get these icons in four file formats like GIF, PNG, ICO, and BMP.

These icons are the set of collection of pre-made high quality icons that are truly representing assortment hardware items like laptop, monitor, floppy drive, sound card, USB flash drive, and computer. It is most important to remember that all sort of Classic hardware icons are designed with same consistent classic style with prevalence of blue colors. These icons are available in two color formats such as 256 color and semi-transparency. You can apply these icons in Windows Vista and XP.

The clip art illustrations also are accessible in cheap, thus you may get the clip art illustration through online media. Also, it is right to draw the clip art in cheap. You will find out various clip art illustration with the different kinds of sizes and shapes. The clip art illustration is essential icons so you have to choose these icons for the application. In order, to have icons look good as well as raise some interest of your customers is very important. These applications or software should have the icons that are having a clear message for their users. Also, it is the Perfect Icons that comes: they have some good icons set that you may find just perfect without any doubt. Icons color are clear and look at the website or you may see what you need to talk about. Suppose, you wish to take close look in these icon sets, then you need to visit their website.

Adobe Illustrator – Get the New Version as Per Your Requirements

Adobe Illustrator is commonly known as vector graphics editor that marketed and evolved by Adobe system. Today, you can get the advance version of Adobe Illustrator from online media. It has been first evolved for the Apple Macintosh in 1986 as a commercialization post script format.  It is a part of Adobe Photoshop. Keep in mind that Photoshop has been formally developed for digital photo manipulation and photorealistic formats of computer illustration. However, Adobe Illustrator is offering the quality results in the logo and typesetting graphic areas of design. This Adobe Illustrator has been first used in magazine advertisement. It is having different versions like 88, and 1.7. So, you can select the best version through which you can fulfill your requirements easily. Now, you need to move for the online media and make a proper research about the Adobe Illustrator. In this way, you will have the best version to editor image, files and many more graphics things.

Beginning with the version 1.0, the Adobe select to license the image of the Sandro Botticelli’s ” Birth of Venus” at Bettmann Archive as well as use portion having Venus’ face as the Illustrator’s branding. Warnock desired the Renaissance image for evoking vision of the Postscript as new Renaissance to publish, as well as Adobe employee the Luanne Seymour Cohen, that was liable for early marketing material, and found Venus’ to flow tresses the perfect car for demonstrating the Illustrator’s strength to trace the smooth curves at bitmap source images. And over years rendition of image on the Illustrator’s splash screen as well as packaging got more stylized for reflecting the features that are added in every version. Image of the Venus was been replaced (albeit accessible through easter egg) in he Illustrator CS and CS2 by the stylized flower conform to Creative Suite’s nature.

Basic Vista Icons – Available with True Color and Semi Transparency

Well, you are looking for the best icons for your latest OS, Microsoft Windows 7. No problem, now you can avail several amazing icons for your new OS, Microsoft Windows 7. The new OS, Microsoft Windows 7 is considered as the most recognized OS, for its beautiful interface and incredibly convenient layout. However, such great popularity should be taken into account because with Basic Vista Icons, your application can reach height of excellence. These icons can be available according to your needs as they can be obtainable in all popular format and sizes. Basic Vista Icons can be found in 2 versions such as casting a shadow or without it. They can be also obtainable in different sizes such as 16×16, 24×24, 32×32, 48×48 and 256×256 for Window 7 and Vista users. They can also available in 256 color and
true color with semi transparency and file formats like ICO, PNG, GIF and BMP.

Also icons designer is design very beautifully it catches eyes of everybody. Basically it is accessible in 3 versions like disabled, normal and highlighted. This format may differ according to various Windows platform like BMP, PNG or ICO who fulfill demand of user. These resolutions of crystal icons are available in different pixels like 16×16, 20×20, 32×32, 48×48, 256×256 or 512×512, user may face any of the confusion about their need. This is very rare type of the icon set where the arbitrary symbol can get used for representing actions and example, or pause button. These icons makesimple for the users for scanning the web pages fast or to understand the features therein. It also helps in improving the navigation of icons and website can help to depict various categories and, cut down your time to read in content.

JPEG 2000 is a Coding System!

JPEG 2000 is a coding system and image compression standard. It has been introduced by Joint Photographic experts Group in 2000. JPEG 2000 has been created for superseding the true and natural discrete cosine transform based. The normal filename extension is .jpg2 for IEC and ISO 15444-1. There are numbers of file formats extension have evolved for JPEG 2000. By using numbers of file extension names, you can store several types of images properly. Also, it is having numbers of features and advantages which are helping you use it in the best way. There are some features discussed below.

  • It allows the users for superior compression performance
  • Also, allows the users for making multiple resolution representation
  • One of the best features of JPEG 2000 is progressive transmission through pixel and resolution accuracy.
  • It is so flexible to file format and file naming.
  • Also, it is fully supporting the transparency and alpha planes.

    Whereas there is the modest increase in the compression performance of the JPEG 2000 when compared to the JPEG, main benefit that is offered by the JPEG 2000 is significant flexibility of codestream. Codestream got after the compression of image with the JPEG 2000 is very scalable in nature, it means that it is decoded in many ways; for example, by truncating a code stream at a point, one might get the representation of an image at the lower resolution, and signal to noise– see the scalable compression. So, by ordering codestream in different ways, the applications will attain the important performance increases. But, as the consequence of flexibility, the JPEG 2000 needs encoders or decoders, which are complex & computationally demanding. One more difference, when compared with JPEG, is in the terms of the visual artifacts: the JPEG 2000 makes ringing artifacts, and manifested as rings and blur near edges in image, whereas JPEG makes ringing artifacts as well as ‘blocking’ artifacts, because of 8*8 blocks.

Online Icons – Producing Some Eye-Catching Icons!

Now day’s software developer and icons makers are producing some eye catching icons that offer a great look to the online application and websites. Now, the online icons can be used in professional or official field to fulfill the requirement of the users. These days, assortment online icons images are available in the online media through which websites can look great and stylish. Online icons are one of the most popular icons that can enhance the appearance of your new project in a great way. These icons are professionally designed and carefully crafted that make a perfect set for web design. Now you can purchase these sets of icons in cheaply. You can also get 480 icons in these sets with semi transparent windows XP and 8 bit formats. Different sizes of these icons available are 16×16, 20×20, 24×24, 32×32 and 48×48 pixels. These icons are also available in three states normal, disabled and highlighted.

The icons are very freely available for the personal use as well as anybody will feel free putting the links to page on sites. But, ask me in case, you choose to have them on the site as well as attribute the origin. Web sites related to iconography or Orthodoxy must not have any kind of the trouble. It is a start of what I actually hope to be the archive of online icons. We have currently gotten quota upped to ten Megs. Searching for icons online free? Take close look at the collection of online icons free that also come in various categories. The free online icon comes in a lot of formats and sizes as well as are editable. We give you best quality of the professional icons at the dead cheap rates. Require basic web hosting services to put the website online? Then go for best by making use of hosting service or get bandwidth, quicker data transfer rates, disk space, domain name, website stats as well as much more.